A neighbor recently reminisced about her first experience with The Thirth of July — watching a big crowd of neighbors eating, drinking and celebrating at the big block party, she remembered thinking how cool it looked, and how she wished she was invited. Turned out she was invited — we all are, every year. Lesson learned, and definitely not forgotten.
Since 2001, the annual Thirth celebration has been giving East Nashvillians an outlet for pre-Independence Day celebration and all-around neighborliness, with live music, lots to eat and drink and a big crew of friendly folks, all hanging out around 12th Street between Ordway and Calvin, closed to traffic for the party.
“Some friends and I were sitting around on my front porch and just came up with the idea,” longtime organizer Chris Thompson tells us of The Thirth’s beginnings. “Most of us were single at the time and just looking for an excuse to throw a party. It's grown ever since.”
You can safely expect hundreds of Thirth invitees out for this year’s event — Friday, July 3, with music starting at 5:30 p.m. and going into the evening. It includes performances from Jason Eskridge, Early Jones, American Watermelon and Joe, Marc's Brother, plus food from G'z BBQ and Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream and beer from Yazoo Brewing Company. Tickets, which are $15 in advance and $20 at the gate, give you access to all the goods, plus all the beer you can safely drink. (Kids are free. Just warn them that their ticket doesn’t include beer.)
And as is the East Nashville way, there’s a giving side to the celebration — a portion of the ticket proceeds will benefit the Tennessee Environmental Council and its efforts to educate and advocate for the conservation and improvement of our state’s environment.
As he was getting ready for the 2015 Thirth, Thompson offered us a little more insight into the start of the party, and how to do it right.
The East Nashvillian: Can you talk a little bit about how The Thirth has grown through the years?
Chris Thompson: “Well, it started with a small PA system on my front porch and my musician friends providing the entertainment. We closed off the street with saw horses and a one-way sign. Then we got a bigger stage and moved it to the driveway. More people started showing up as the bands got a little bigger. After about three years, I realized I needed to do it right with permits and insurance, food vendors, etc. And now we have sponsors, online ticketing, and the big stage at the intersections of Ordway and N. 12th.”
What are you shooting for in booking the music lineup for The Thirth?
“I try to stay local. I go for music that I enjoy and will keep people coming back for more. I generally know someone in the bands, or take recommendations from close friends.”
As a Thirth vet, any pro tips for newcomers who might be coming for the first time?
“Bring a chair or blanket, if you'd like. Bring cash to tip your bartenders and pay for food. Bring a great attitude and enjoy yourself. Meet your neighbors and realize what a special place East Nashville is to live.”
After wrangling and celebrating at The Thirth, are you too tired for Fourth of July parties?
“Nope, I attend the Hot Chicken Festival, and any parties my friends throw. And I always make it to East Park to watch the fireworks.”
The Thirth of July block party kicks off at 5 p.m. at 404 North 12th Street. Online ticket sales ($15) cut off at noon on Friday. Tickets are $20 at the gate. More information at the official Thirth of July website.