Sierra Ferrell releases Long Time Coming today on Rounder Records. Photo by Alysse Gafkjen

East Side Buzz, Aug. 20

My dad has a pretty simple reason for not believing in government conspiracy theories: The government can’t even figure out how to fix the potholes in the street. 

And if you look at the way Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has handled protecting kids against COVID-19 this week, it makes you feel the same way about government competence. 

A couple of weeks ago, Metro Nashville Public Schools announced new mask mandates

Then this week Lee ordered schools to allow mask exemptions

Then, on Monday, MNPS issued a statement pushing back against Lee’s order. 

Then, the Nashville district attorney told an MNPS board member that he won’t prosecute teachers who require masks. 

Then, on Wednesday, President Joe Biden called out Tennessee specifically in an address to the nation, threatening legal action, and telling governors, “If you aren’t going to fight COVID-19, at least get out of the way of everyone else who’s trying… you know, we’re not going to sit by as governors try to block and intimidate educators protecting our children.” 

Then, Lee responded to Biden with a kind of playground comeback, saying on Twitter, “Parents know better than the government what’s best for their children.”  

What a mess. At least Sierra Ferrell’s new album is finally out. 

Thank God for Sierra Ferrell

We all need something to believe in. The Christians have Jesus. The hippies have Jerry. David Lynch has transcendental meditation. 

And if you’re a certain type of singer-songwriter in Nashville who likes your country music dark and believes it is best played around the light of a fire, you have Sierra Ferrell

And Ferrell, the face-tattooed, train-hopping, West Virginia country singer with the voice of God (She/Her), releases her long-awaited album, Long Time Coming, today on Rounder Records. 

It’s a big step in Ferrell’s career. Despite her talents, she’s been as DIY as it gets — constantly touring, selling CDs wrapped in paper, and often popping up to sing unannounced at every cool honky-tonk and house party in Nashville. 

She isn’t exactly underground — her live YouTube videos have racked up millions of views — but the release of Long Time Coming will hopefully give her the music biz push needed to usher her talents into the zeitgeist, and into the history books. People need to hear her. 

But if the record deal doesn’t help, I guarantee you she doesn’t give a shit. She’s already on her way. 

Sierra Ferrell plays three Nashville shows this weekend in support of Long Time Coming: Tonight and Saturday night at The Basement, beginning at 8 p.m., as well as Saturday at The Groove record store at noon (The Groove show will also feature a merch signing, photo ops, beer, and a food truck). 

No, the American Legion Is Not Closing

The Cowpokes. Photo by Jared Manzo

East Nashville’s American Legion Post 82, 3204 Gallatin Pike, is not closing due to lack of members. Honky Tonk Tuesday isn’t going anywhere. It was all a big misunderstanding. 

A post on Instagram Tuesday from the account of Honky Tonk Tuesday — the popular, weekly country music night hosted at Post 82 by classic country band The Cowpokes — stated that it could be the last Honky Tonk Tuesday. 

“The state (American Legion) has threatened to shut Post 82 down for lack of membership. We need to significantly increase membership tonight, and have set a wild goal of increasing membership by 150 new members,” the post stated. 

It went on to call for people to come in, “take a stand,” and join the Legion in the number of ways one can join and pay dues to support the veterans’ organization. 

The state American Legion claims Post 82 has been in a little bit of hot water, but not for lack of membership. 

“They’ve got to be a Legion post first, and a lounge second. And the perception is (Post 82) is being lounge first and a post second,” said Dean Tuttle, Department Adjutant and Finance Officer for The American Legion Department of Tennessee. 

It is also not at risk of closing, Tuttle said.

“There is no move to suspend or dissolve the charter of Post 82,” he said. “They’re going to be there for maybe 100 years or so.” 

A representative from Post 82 did not return a request for comment this week. 

Kevin Martin, founder of Honky Tonk Tuesday, and fiddle player/vocalist for The Cowpokes, said the membership drive was a result of information they received from local post officials. 

“We got a call that we needed to do a membership drive, to prove to the American Legion state that we have members that are coming, and that was what we decided we need to do,” Martin said. “They didn’t explicitly say they were going to shut down (Post 82) due to lack of membership, but that was my understanding.”

The drive resulted in over 100 new members this week, Martin said. It’s not a bad thing.  

“It was a massive boost, and from what I’ve heard, the state American Legion, they’re pleased that we have got the members, and hopefully we can just keep them off our back for a while,” Martin said. “It’s not about our Honky Tonk Tuesday night or Bluegrass Wednesday, it’s about helping the veterans, this struggling veterans’ organization with an aging membership, or a dwindling membership, and helping that stay alive. We care about the Legion. We care about the members.” 

More East Nashville Residents Have Been Displaced by Development

1222 Gallatin Ave. Photo by Jack Johnson

Residents of a small, eight-unit apartment building at 1222 Gallatin Ave. (near the corner of Gallatin Avenue and Douglas Avenue) say they were recently told they need to move because the property was sold and will soon be converted into Airbnb rentals. 

Some tenants say they were given as little as 30 days’ notice to vacate their apartments. Some have lived there for years. 

“It’s dirty the way they done it, because I’ve lived here eight years and I paid the rent on the third of last month, and on the fifth they gave us the 30-day eviction notice. That’s not fair. Nobody’s got nowhere to go over here,” says Rebecca Duke, 66, who lives in a unit with her disabled husband Cecil Duke, also 66. 

Duke says she pays $625 a month in rent — up from $525 when she first moved in eight years ago — and cannot find a place to live for the same amount. 

“I’ve called every number, every place… everywhere I know to call, and everything’s either eleven, twelve hundred dollars, or they don’t have nothin’,” she says. “There’s nowhere to go… I don’t know what we’re gonna do.” 

Duke said that she was supposed to be out Aug. 13, but with nowhere to go, she’s gone nowhere. “If they want me out, they’re going to have to find me a place,” she says. “I’m just lost.” 

The property was purchased in June by Synergy Holdings, LLC from Kenneth and Linda Hackney for a price of $1.02 million, according to the Davidson County Register of Deeds.

Marian Andreescu, one of the new property owners, says Duke is not current on her rent, and he has tried to help tenants relocate into other properties owned by his company.

Andreescu says half of the tenants have been given a 30-day notice, but no one has been evicted. One tenant, he says, has been successfully relocated into another property he owns, claiming affordable housing is an important part of his company’s business model.

“We have tried to relocate anyone who has a desired to do so,” Andreescu said. “We have some properties in what I would consider affordable, under $1,200 a month, and we have some properties under $1,000 a month.” 

Another man named Don (he did not provide a last name) said that he has lived in his apartment for four years. “It’s a cool spot,” he said. 

He will be moving into a motel, he said, but he isn’t stressed. 

“It’s nothin’ to make a big scene out of because this is a place that is growing,” he said. “People can’t get mad because they’re changing.” 

Jennifer Gutman, a graduate student at Vanderbilt University, has lived at the property since 2019. She said she was given a 30-day notice to vacate on July 15. 

Gutman was able to find another place to live in East Nashville recently, but knows not all of her neighbors are as lucky. 

“It’s sad,” she said. “I hate to see people who’ve lived here for years unable to continue calling this place home.” 

It is not certain what the plan is for the property, which needs renovating, Andreescu said. Short-term rentals are a possibility.

“We haven’t fully decided,” he said. “We know we can’t rent it for $600 a month.” 

In the Aug. 6 “East Side Buzz,” The East Nashvillian reported that the property owner of the Berkshire Place Apartment complex on Porter Road plans on moving all the residents of its 195 units to a complex in Madison to make room for a mixed-use development.

Additionally, people living at the W.C. Company Mobile Home Community on Dickerson Pike have been given notice they need to move, in order to make room for future development. Residents pleaded with the Metro City Council for more time earlier this month.

Quick Bits

Love Buzz

Today Maggie Rose releases her long-awaited new album Have a Seat. It was recorded in 2019 at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala. — before we knew what COVID-19 was — and at the time Rose was hoping her collection of songs would ignite a conversation. She filled the album with tracks like “For Your Consideration” and “What Makes You Tick,” songs in which Rose invites the listener to be thoughtful about the source of their own opinions and intentions.

My favorite, though, is the opening track, a powerful rhythm and blues number that slowly builds into Rose asking the question, “What are we fighting for?” over and over again. She’s simultaneously asking, “Why are we fighting?” And “What are we willing to fight for?” It’s the kind of explosive and jubilant song that many other artists would put at the end of the record as a way to make one more lasting impression, but Rose, never shy about what she thinks, used it as a way to blow open the doors from the start.

“Love Buzz” is curated by contributor Megan Seling.