Tag Archives: Nashville

A Historic Night in Nashville

30 Oct

A few weeks ago, our friend Steve invited me to attend a historic lecture at the Nashville Public Library. Being someone who gives historic lectures every day, I was fired up to have the opportunity to hear someone else do it. I was especially fired up to hear Nathaniel Philbrick, the person who was speaking.

Last Monday, was the big night to hear some interesting stories, but the history began before the lecture. We had dinner at Woolworth on Fifth, a new Nashville restaurant that has an old story. It is named for Woolworth Five and Dime, which was in the same location for decades. Those stores were famous for their shopping but became infamous for their lunch counters.

Those of you who know Civil Rights history probably realize that the first lunch counter protests took place in Greensboro, North Carolina. African-American students sat at the segregated lunch counters as a way to fight against the injustice. However, you may not know that lunch counter protests were supposed to happen in Nashville first. Students from Fisk University and Tennessee A and I trained for months to carry out the protests. While they were training, the students in Greensboro just decided to do it.

That did not stop the Nashville protests. Rip Patton, John Lewis and others completed their mission to much abuse. In fact, it is the first time that Lewis ever got arrested. Woolworth on Fifth has rebuilt the lunch counter and honors those brave people by telling their story.

After dinner, we walked to the library to hear Philbrick talk about his latest book, “In the Hurricane’s Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown”. It is the last of his American Revolution trilogy. I have yet to read those, but I have read “In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex” and “The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull and the Battle of Little Bighorn”.

After the lecture, we had the chance to meet Philbrick and get books signed.

At this point, I told him that have assigned “In the Heart of the Sea” to my freshman classes for years and have sold hundreds of copies. Like a good historian, he was appreciative of that.

The Definitive List of the Best Appetizers in Nashville According to Me

17 Sep

Today, we dined at one of our favorite brunch places in Nashville, and I posted about it on Facebook. Yes, I broke down and joined the Facebook universe after fighting it for years. This means that I now have a Facebook account; three Twitter accounts; and this blog. Hopefully, all of that will not lead to a social media meltdown.

Anyway, the discussion that ensued brought to mind a potential blog post. What, in my humble opinion, are the best appetizers in Nashville, a place that has become known as a foodie locale?

For those who may not know, I once wrote a post about the oddity of appetizers. Since this is my second post about appetizers, then that must qualify me as an appetizer expert. With that in mind, here is my list of the top five appetizers in Nashville.

5. The Charcuterie Platter at Urban Grub – On the surface, charcuterie platters seem simple. There is a little cheese. There is a little meat. There are a few crackers. However, not a charcuterie platters are made equal. Urban Grub brings out a slab of wood topped with a variety of house cured meats and distinctive cheeses. The Creole mustard is what really sets it off. Unfortunately, the Creole mustard ended up on the floor during my first platter experience. That is another story for another time.

4. My Way at The Southern – This is more than an appetizer. It is an explosion of flavor. It is like someone put a dance club on your plate. It is an appetizer. It is a meal. Heck, it can also be dessert. I will just let the menu describe it. My Way is brown butter linguine topped with pine nuts, goat cheese, bacon lardons and two fried Willow Farm eggs.

3. Roasted Garlic Tallow Candle with Monkey Bread at Fort Louise – We were looking for a new dining experience, and I stumbled upon Fort Louise while browsing the Internet. On the night of our dining experience, we were not sure about it. We pulled up to an old house and wondered if it was the right place. There was no sign, and the restaurant next door was packed. When we walked in, there we a few other diners who would fit the mold of millennials. Of course, Nashville is filled with millennials. They live cool lifestyles and eat cool food, but none of us can figure out how they afford it. I say that to say that we were the oldest people there. However, youthful vigor returned when we were served our appetizer. The tallow is burning, and the monkey bread is meant to be dipped into the melting candle. Fat has never tasted so good.

2. Cheese Fritters at Amerigo – My absolute favorite food is burnt cheese. You know when you make homemade nachos and part of the cheese is crusted on the pan. That is the cheese that I like. Now, take that cheese; cook it in an orb shape; and place it on a plate of honey mustard and marinara. I am speechless just thinking about it. Wait, I should say that I am typeless just thinking about it. This is the appetizer that inspired my previous post about appetizers.

1. Deviled Eggs and Millionaire’s Bacon at Brick Top’s – Today, we had brunch at Brick Top’s, and we never go there without getting this appetizer. A lot of restaurants in these parts have deviled eggs appetizers, but none of them compare to these. In fact, Brick Top’s may have started the deviled egg trend. These eggs are awesome, but the hot sauce makes them more awesome. That spice also blends well with the bacon that is smothered in a sticky syrup. We always wonder how they make the sweet bacon. In the old days, we knew one of the managers, and he would always slip us some extra eggs and bacon. Now, we just get the regular order, but there is nothing regular about these eggs and bacon.

There you have it. My list of the best appetizers in Nashville. If you have dined in the Music City, then what is on your list?

A Relaxing Night in the Way Too Busy City of Nashville

27 Aug

Last night, we had dinner with friends at Silo, a restaurant in the Germantown neighborhood of Nashville. On the way, we hit little traffic and, once we arrived, found a parking spot within a few yards. You may ask why I mention that and here is the answer.

A few blocks from the restaurant, the Nashville Soccer Club was playing in the recently built minor league baseball stadium.

Just past their stadium, Taylor Swift was performing in front of over 60,000 screaming fans at Nissan Stadium.

From there, a short walk across the pedestrian bridge would have taken you to Ascend Amphitheater where Needtobreathe was putting on a show.

Down the street from the amphitheater, Journey and Def Leppard packed Bridgestone Arena with fans reminiscing about the 1980s.

Across the street from Bridgestone Arena, over 4,000 people were competing in the Pokemon Finals at the Music City Center.

Up the hill from there, another sold out show was being held at the historic Ryman Auditorium.

On top of all that, Garth Brooks appeared on two shows of the Grand Ole Opry.

In short, there was a lot going on in Nashville. In fact, it is estimated that over 130,000 fans were in the city for some kind of event.

However, we had a nice dinner without any hustle and bustle. The only issue was everyone in the back of the car trying to get this picture right before posting it on social media.

While others were rocking the night away, older eyes were trying to determine how they looked in a picture as I rolled down the interstate.

By the way, dinner was awesome. If you make it to Nashville, then you should definitely go to Silo.

Guns N’ Roses – What a Concert is Supposed to Be

15 Nov

Last night, my nephew and I saw Guns N’ Roses in concert, and it was awesome. The original gang was back together with Axl, Slash and all of the rest. However, that was not the only awesome thing.

This concert was what a concert is supposed to be.

Before I explain that sentence, I must say that I was worried about this show. When Guns N’ Roses was one of the biggest bands in the world, Axl was notorious for being late. Heck, that is probably one of the reasons why the band broke up. The others were tired of his flakiness. However, that is not the only thing. When we saw Axl a few years ago with the alternate version of Guns N’ Roses, he was over two hours late. In other words, I did not have high hopes.

To my surprise, my worries were unwarranted, and this show was what a concert is supposed to be.

First, it started on time. I have never been to a concert that started at the time on the ticket. They always start late to make sure the crowd gets there. This concert was scheduled to start at 7:00. We got to our seats at 6:45 thinking that we would be there for a bit. At 6:58, the lights went down, and the preconcert video began. At 7:00, the band was on the stage.

I sent a text to my wife saying the show was beginning. She thought I meant the opening act, but there was no opening act. It was Guns N’ Roses. Heck, a lot of people had not even arrived. They were certainly under the impression that this show, like most shows, had some time built in.

This concert was what a concert is supposed to be because it started on time.

Second, there was no casual banter with the crowd. Axl yelled out Nashville a few times and said thank you after every song. That is all he said. There were no stories between songs. There were no proclamations that Nashville is their favorite city. They just went from one song to the other, and they did that for 3 1/2 hours.

Think about that for a second. They performed without a break for 3 1/2 hours. Heck, they came back for their encore after about 2 minutes off stage. That is what I call getting my moneys worth. They knew that people came to hear them play, and they played all of the great songs.

The concert was what a concert is supposed to be because they did not waste time.

Third, there was no agenda. In the recent concerts I have attended, the artists have felt the need to talk about our political climate. They give their opinions about the state of our country and the world. I do not pay for a ticket to hear all of that. I pay for a ticket to be entertained. Guns N’ Roses understood that.

As of this moment, I have no idea what Axl and Slash think about current affairs. However, I know that they can Rock the house down. Welcome to the Jungle. Paradise City. November Rain. The list goes on and on.

The concert was what a concert is supposed to be because it was not politicized.

Was Guns N’ Roses the best concert that I have ever seen? I am not sure, but it was the purest concert I have ever seen.

Our Week With Eric Church, Carole King, the Bandit and the Nashville Predators

30 May

It has been an eventful week in the SBI World, and we have spent a lot of time in the city 30 miles to the west. For those not up on local geography, that city is Nashville.

On Monday night, we had tickets for Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals in the National Hockey League. The Nashville Predators have been on a magical run through the playoffs and have taken over the city. Long time Predator fans are not happy with the bandwagon people, but we felt that Game 6 was a must-see event. They clinched the championship, and I got to High Five the country music star who sat in front of us. I have no idea who he was, but my wife was not happy that I got to touch him and she did not.

On Tuesday night, I was back in Nashville for a fundraiser. Cumberland University, where I work, is the home of the Martin Van Buren Papers, and a Nashville attorney hosted an event to assist with that project. He has an amazing collection of historic artifacts and opened his office for tours. People paid to see documents signed by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Davy Crockett, King George III and various other people. It was interesting to see everything and to hear the stories of how the collection came together.

On Wednesday night, I went with my brother and my nephews to a truly cultural event. We went to the theater to see the 40th Anniversary screening of Smokey and the Bandit, a movie that I have seen a million times.

It was great to see the Bandit, Snowman and Buford T. Justice on the big screen, but it was also great to see people with their t-shirts. As bandit tells Snowman when they get to the warehouse full of Coors beer, it was “redneck heaven.” After it was over, I wanted to get a diablo sandwich and a Dr. Pepper.

On Friday night, it was back to Bridgestone Arena, home of the Predators. However, we were not there for a hockey game. We were there to see Eric Church in concert.

I do not know much about the singer, but we had already seen him at a Kris Kristofferson tribute concert. This one was more rocking and raucous. Eric Church is known for wearing sunglasses, and it was funny to see all of the guys in the crowd wearing sunglasses. I reckon that thought some female would mistake them for the performer.

On Sunday night, we went to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center to see Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. It was a great show about the life of a prolific songwriter who also creating on of the great albums of all time. Through professional success and personal tribulation, she wrote songs that became part of the soundtrack for a generation. Now, we have to see the real person in concert.

At some point, I made the statement that I was not going to go into the city for a while. However, I will it will happen because there is too much cool stuff there to do. This week was just a small sample of that.

Things That Are Better Than Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse

18 Dec

This weekend, we belatedly celebrated my birthday by getting a hotel room in Nashville and going out to dinner. The city has become a great food destination. Local chefs and chefs from around the nation are opening great restaurants in Nashville. We have been to several, but a new one is always opening. In other words, if you like food, then Nashville is the place to be.

This time, we decided to go to Jeff Ruby’s, an upscale steakhouse based in Cincinnati. We do not usually go for steakhouse chains. Our tastes usually run toward something more trendy and creative. However, a lot of people told us that it is a great place. I am sure that they love it. We did not.jeff-rubys

The decor is circus-like. When I think of upscale steakhouses, I think of something more refined. Maybe some wood. Maybe some lower ceilings. Maybe something more classy.

When I think of upscale steakhouses, I also think of steak. The steaks at Ruth’s Chris are awesome. The steak at Kayne Prime, a locally owned establishment, are awesome. The steak at Morton’s are awesome. The steaks at Jeff Ruby’s are nowhere near awesome. While they are tender, they are doused in salt and other flavorings. A great steak does not need all of that.

When I think of upscale steakhouses, I think of great side dishes. Every chain has great au gratin potatoes. Jeff Ruby’s potatoes are not that great. The bread is good if you do not use the truffle butter.

Anyway, we were not impressed with Jeff Ruby’s. They throw a lot of food on your plate. I suppose that is why some people like it. Quantity over quality. I am a bigger fan of quality. Give me something with a great combination of flavors, and I am happy. There are a ton of restaurants in Nashville that provide that, and we should have dined at one of them.

Hopefully, you can tell that our experience was not great, and we should have known by the name of the place. When I am going to say Jeff Ruby’s, my mind wants me to say Jack Ruby. I wonder if anyone thought about that before they named the restaurant.

Jeff Ruby’s was not good, but I do not want this to be an entirely negative post. There are some great “ruby” things out there.

Ruby Slippers

Ruby Falls

Ruby” by The Osbourne Brothers

Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday” by The Rolling Stones

Ruby Tuesday’s Salad Bar

Ruby Dee

I can promise you that all of those things are better that Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse

 

Bad Football and a Musical Complaint

7 Nov

Lately, I have watched some bad football. The Tennessee Titans leave a lot of be desired. The season of the Tennessee Volunteers has gone from great promise to a quagmire. I am also reading a book about an infamous game in the history of Cumberland University. For those who do not know, our school lost to Georgia Tech 222-0. It is the biggest defeat in the history of college football.

Sam Hatcher, who I have known for years, wrote a book to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the game. Heisman’s First Trophy: The Game that Launched Football in the South is an interesting read that provides a great story of the game. I would recommend it to anyone. Some of it is fictionalized, but the heart of the story remains true.heisman-book

I have been surrounded by bad football, but I have also witnessed some bad halftime performances. The University of Tennessee Marching Band is known as the Pride of the Southland, and they have been performing something called the “Circle Drill” for 50 years. I know that because they announced  that this year is the 50th anniversary of the routine. Certainly, it is a difficult marching formation to perform, but I have one request.

PLAY SOME NEW SONGS!

I have been watching the “Circle Drill” for 42 of the 50 years that it has been in existence, and they have played the same songs the entire time. I can even recite the announcer’s script.

They do a musical tour of Tennessee by starting out in Memphis. That is when they play Elvis Presley’s “signature” tune “C.C. Rider.” Then, they go to Chattanooga with “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” Next is a visit to Nashville with “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” They end up in Knoxville with “Rocky Top,” the school’s unofficial fight song.

I understand “Rocky Top.” It fires up the crowd and needs to be played. However, it is time to spruce up the rest of the collection. Tennessee is one of the most musical places around. I know they can do better.

First, “C.C. Rider” is not the “signature” song of Elvis Presley. I guarantee that if you ask anyone to name and Elvis song that one would not be mentioned. I would choose “Hound Dog.” Here is the other thing. Elvis was not the only creator of songs in Memphis. What about doing a Tina Turner songs? Or an Isaac Hayes song? What about a Blues classic or something from Stax Records?

I know that “Chattanooga Choo Choo” is an obvious selection for Chattanooga. However, they could throw the crowd a curve with “Chattanooga City Limit Sign” by Johnny Cash. How about “Lookout Mountain” by Drive-By Truckers?

Nashville, otherwise known as Music City, is home to hundreds of artists and thousands of songs. I think they can find a new one. “Nashville Cats” by The Lovin’ Spoonful would be a great pick. Heck, they could shock the world by playing a Jimi Hendrix tune. It would work since he spent his early days in the clubs on Nashville’s Jefferson Street. I cannot even do this paragraph justice. There are so many songs to play that they could close their eyes and pick one out of a songbook.

Better yet, they could get the band from Tennessee State University to do the “Circle Drill.” I know the Aristocrat of Bands and the Sophisticated Ladies could circle it up.