East Side Buzz, April 9

Hi, Buzzers! Do you mind if I call you Buzzers? I’m gonna call you Buzzers.

The March/April issue of The East Nashvillian is OUT NOW! In it, read a special pandemic edition of Know Your Neighbor with Vanderbilt nurse Megan Tenbarge, Metro Council Member Brett A. Withers, Metro Nashville Education Association President Amanda Kail, and retail hero and musician Jon Latham. There is also an ode to the late David Olney by Irakli Gabriel, an essay from musician Lydia Luce, and more. And just in case you haven’t seen it yet, Todd Snider is the cover story and you can order a copy and have it delivered to your door right here!

The East Nashvillian, Issue 11.2, March/April 2021

Want to advertise in the May/June edition? Now’s a great time to make that happen! Email sales@theeastnashvillian.com for rates and information.

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Save the Exit/In

If you’ve been asleep for the past week, you may have missed the news: The plot of land Exit/In is built on is currently under contract to be sold to AJ Capital Partners, a “vertically-integrated real estate developer, owner, and operator.” (That’s their fancy way of saying they build hotels and shit.) The “AJ” stands for “Adventurous Journeys.” Seriously.

AJ Capital is the developer behind the chain of Graduate Hotels (including the Nashville and Knoxville locations) and Thompson Nashville in the Gulch and May Hosiery Co-Op in Wedgewood Houston.

While news of impending boutique hotels is hardly surprising in Nashville these days, this possible sale hits harder than most. In February, Tennessee Lookout’s Nate Rau broke the news that the Exit/In property was for sale, and owner Chris Cobb was working with Grubb Properties’ newly founded Live Venue Recovery Fund to make an offer on the land. Cobb did indeed make an offer — Cobb told Joseph Hudak at Rolling Stone that it was a higher offer than AJ Capital’s, even — but Cobb and Co. were still denied

“I think somebody’s got a master plan for that block and us being there doesn’t fit into that plan,” Cobb told Hudak.

Now, Cobb hopes to present AJ Capital with an offer they can’t refuse. Just yesterday the Preseve Exit/In! GoFundMe campaign passed its $200,000 goal ($209,551 to be exact, as of 10 a.m. on April 9) but, as Cobb writes on the page, “The higher the bid, the better our chances,” so donations are still being accepted. 

As for AJ Capital, well, their website promises they “conquer space and give it back meaning.” Last we checked, the Exit/In was already rich with meaning. Some of history’s greatest performers — Etta James, Johnny Cash, Lucinda Williams, X, Emmylou Harris, Leonard Cohen, BB King, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, The Police, Barry fuckin’ Manilow (it’s a REALLY long list) — have graced that stage since the club opened 50 years ago. This week dozens of other musicians — and Nashville Mayor John Cooper — took to social media to support the club, too.

What we are saying, Adventurous Journeys Capital (if that is your real name), is THE EXIT/IN ALREADY HAS MEANING SO THE SPACE DOESN’T NEED CONQUERING, SO PLEASE, BACK THE FUCK OFF. 

Ahem. Deep breath. Sorry. It’s been a long week. Maybe we can help AJ’s folks realize that via email

They seem awfully proud of their progressive reputation. Their employees all have *~inspirational quotes~* on the company’s website. Abby Christian, the Senior Interior Designer, believes, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” Alex Stanford, SVP of Development & Construction, quotes ol’ Teddy Roosevelt, saying, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

Great advice, Stanford! The work worth doing is saving the Exit/In! The company’s email is info@ajcpt.com. Their phone number is (312) 361-1662. Asking them (POLITELY!) to consider selling the land to Cobb couldn’t hurt, right? Just, as the kids said in 2010, sayin’.

Love you, Exit/In. Thanks for the socks.

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Speaking of Live Music Venues …

The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) commemorates its one-year anniversary with a one-day offering of merch. Today (Friday, April 9) through tomorrow morning at 5 a.m., all merchandise will remain available while supplies last. Coincidentally, we just picked up our posters from Blue Door Framing, which will occupy a hallowed place in our East Nashville studio.

“While no one gave us any hope that we could get legislation passed—after all, we didn’t exist before the pandemic,” said Dayna Frank, Owner & CEO, First Avenue Productions, and Board President of NIVA in a statement. “This band of Type A independent small business people came together in desperation and fought as hard for each other as they did for themselves. The opening of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant is a culmination of all of our hard work—365 days of juggling our own individual business affairs with our tireless organizational and advocacy work with NIVA, all with no income – and is just an incredible relief. While the weight remains on our shoulders until the funds are actually distributed, seeing the light at the end of this tunnel fills me with hope for the future of our industry. As I’ve been saying since the beginning, ‘First we survive, then we thrive.’ As vaccination numbers continue to improve and emergency relief is on its way, we know one day soon we will.”

Get yours and show your support at nivassoc.org/merch

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Introducing Odessa Kelly

On Monday East Nashville native Odessa Kelly announced her congressional campaign — she’s challenging Representative Jim Cooper in the 2022 midterms. Justice Democrats, the same PAC that has helped Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, and Pramila Jayapal, is backing her efforts.

To launch her campaign, Kelly, a co-founder of Stand Up Nashville, tweeted Monday:

We’ll catch up more with Kelly in the coming weeks. For now, follow her on Twitter and learn more about where she stands on issues — including LGBTQ+ equality, justice reform, gun violence prevention, and housing justice — at odessaforcongress.com.

Dying to Play

Death is inevitable. Now, thanks to East Nashvillians Sarah Mason and Mitchell Maddox, it’s also a party card game called Death Charades.

The instructions are pretty much just like charades: Players gather in two or more teams and each team takes turns drawing cards from a deck and acting out the deadly scenarios written on each card. You can use your own timer or the official Death Charades timer available in the App Store and Google Play. Speaking is not allowed, but “noises are very much encouraged.” Each card has a point value and if the team successfully guesses the cause of death, they’re awarded that many points. Whichever team has the most points after however many rounds you feel like playing wins. 

Easy! And morbid AF. But Death Charades’ creators insist the game isn’t nearly as gruesome as it sounds. The idea may have taken shape during a very deadly pandemic, but Maddox says Mason had the idea pre-COVID, and initially, the couple was very skeptical about releasing such an invention during such dark days.

“Sarah came up with the concept before COVID,” Mitchell tells The East Nashvillian. “We were sort of noodling around with the idea and when COVID happened we were like, ‘No way. Drop it. It’s not appropriate.’ ” 

But a few months into quarantine, friends who had tested early prototypes of the game started to ask about it. 

“It’s not as edgy as it sounds, it’s more goofy than anything else, so we started asking people that we trusted, ‘Does it make sense to go ahead with it now?’ and the feedback that we got was basically like, ‘Look, people want to get together in smalls groups, it’s perfect for that, and also they want to have a sense of humor about everything that’s going on,’ ” says Maddox.

“Yes, it’s a dark sense of humor but the title is really the edgiest part, most of it’s pretty chill.”

Indeed, most cards are playful, intended to make for fun or flashy physical interpretations more than anything including “Didn’t forward the chain mail,” “Bitten by werewolf,” “Dragons,” “Ate the wrong part of that one sushi fish you’re not supposed to eat” and “Embarrassment.” 

There are a couple of darker cards — including two that will be pulled from future versions of the game — and there has been some pushback from potential customers and buyers finding the topic too taboo, but Maddox says giving people a reason to laugh was their main focus. In fact, both Maddox and Mason were surprised to learn kids are some of Death Charades’ biggest fans.

“There are a lot of children playing it,” says Maddox, with a laugh. “We didn’t expect that to happen. It turns out teenagers and younger love it! They think it’s the funniest game ever.”

For now, Death Charades is for sale at Bongo Java’s Game Point gaming cafe and soon they hope it will be available via Amazon Prime. By this time next year, it could be in national retailers.

“I can’t say any names, but we have had conversations with big games that you’ve heard of, games you’ve been playing since childhood, that want to license the game,” says Maddox. “There’s been a lot of interest. Nationally we’ve talked to a couple major retailers.

“We’re super excited about it,” he adds. “If it doesn’t go anywhere, it doesn’t go anywhere, but if it blows up, super. We feel like it’s a slightly dark social game for people to have a good time with each other and hopefully laugh their butts off.”

“Die laughing?” I ask. (Embarrassingly.)

Maddox politely chuckles. “Believe me, we’ve made all the jokes we can.”

COVID-19 Update

This week Nashville hit a fairly exciting statistic — 30 percent of Nashvillians are vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Mayor Cooper hopes to reach 50 percent by May.

To help reach that goal, Meharry Medical College is transitioning the COVID-19 testing site at the former Kmart lot into a COVID-19 vaccine drive-thru. They’ll be open 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon-Fri with enough appointment slots to vaccine up to 1,500 people a week. 

Everyone 16-years-old or older is now eligible for the vaccine. Go to asafenashville.org to make an appointment at the new drive-thru location or the Music City Center.

And please still wear masks! The CDC says that even when someone is fully vaccinated, they should still take the usual precautions, including wearing a mask and social distancing.

Quick Bits: 

Love Buzz

On March 26 Daisha McBride, aka The Rap Girl, released her new song “Pump Fake,” produced by Sci-Fy and Big Bruno. It opens with the line, “Who want it? I feel like no one can stop me now / I’m the underdog they were talkin’ ‘bout,” in which she’s looking back at her year of slowly but surely gaining much-deserved recognition.

In August McBride and other local hip-hop artists were featured in Forbes and her song “Dolla$” was used on the season finale of the Netflix show Trinkets. She also released a handful of singles last year and addressed all the shit 2020 brought with it with the three-song EPa Hail of a Year. McBride just doesn’t stop and with every release, she earns a little more attention, a little more credit. 

I don’t know when it’ll happen, but at some point, McBride will break into the big time — give “Pump Fake” a listen so you can say you knew her when.