Musicians Introduce Us To Their Cities: Nashville, TN
In this article a Nashville dweller shares some of her insights on the best locations in the eastern part of Music City, from a series of unique and charming venues to watch or play shows within the city, to other locations such as where to go instrument shopping or eat.
I deliberately relocated myself to Nashville to place myself in the vibrant musical culture of this city. I wanted to get away from the country music and honky tonk scene on Broadway, and closer to the alternative singer/songwriters of East Nashville. Here are a few of my most beloved spots in Music City.
The Basement is this dingy little club that will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s where I played some of my first shows as a Nashvillian; and they host so much of Nashville’s best music, from “New Faces Night” where Nashville newcomers can make their debut, to secret shows featuring the likes of Dawes and Mumford & Sons. Plus, Grimey’s record shop is right upstairs with the greatest selection of new and used vinyl, books, and in-store performances.
Speaking of books, McKay is the best spot on the outskirts of Nashville to park yourself for a few hours, perusing thousands upon thousands of books in their giant warehouse-style setup. You name it, they’ve got it.
Fond Object is my favorite spot in East Nashville to go on a Saturday afternoon. I’ll spend the day thumbing through their amazing collection of new and used vinyl records, and stay to check out a concert in their backyard in the evening, watching kids running around feeding hay to the animals in their rescued animal petting zoo.
Fanny’s House of Music is one of the sweetest gems of Nashville, in my opinion. Located in East Nashville’s Five Points district in a grand old Victorian house, it’s a women-owned and operated shop that deals in gorgeous vintage instruments. There’s a vintage clothing shop in the middle of the store, and they even offer music lessons.
Sidenote: Don’t miss the “I Dream of Weenie” hotdog stand (actually a converted VW bus) next door.
A Quiet Spot
I love weaving nature into my songs, and I’m a sucker for the sounds of wild surroundings — birds chirping, running water, wind in the trees, crackling leaves, you name it. When I left California, it was important to me to find a spot where I could close my eyes and get that same peaceful, harmonizing feeling I could find out west. For me, that spot is Radnor Lake. I love to come here and hike to a quiet spot where I can sit, listen to nature, and do some writing.
Sometimes you just need to put on a nice dress and eat some fancy noodle soup. On those occasions, I like to go to an East Nashville hipster restaurant called Two Ten Jack. You have the casual view of famous locals while you shamelessly slurp ramen. It’s a go-to for local musicians before their gigs. If I’m feeling rich (note that it’s just the feeling that counts and not the actual reality) I’ll treat myself to one of their magical cocktails (on tap!!!) and my favorite crispy brussels sprouts. Watch out… the former is deceptively strong and the latter is hopelessly addictive.
Goodbuy Girls is absolutely my favorite place to go boot shopping. If you’re going to hit the road, you need a good pair of boots in which to do so. In addition to being a talented songstress herself, owner Tanya Coe is always playing the best classic country albums. From Waylon to Johnny to Dolly, she keep things groovy and gets you in that country state of mind.
A Special Treat
My friend Ali Sperry (another lovely singer and songwriter) teaches yoga at Kali Yuga. She occasionally treats us all to a class set to live music from an improvisational band. Think fiddle, drums, and some sweet guitar to get you moving and keep it interesting! Thankfully Nashville is chock-full of musical yogis!
Interested in hearing more about the sounds of cities from the artists who love them? Catch up on the full COMPASS series here.