Music City Hot Chicken Festival returns to East Park July 4. Photo by Stacey Irvin

East Side Buzz, July 2

Happy Independence Day weekend, friends! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, the weekend when I have to get my dog all zonked out on tranquilizers so he doesn’t have a heart attack from all the scary booms and pops even though fireworks are illegal in Davidson County. America!

Ahem. But there are some good things happening this weekend. For one, the Music City Hot Chicken Festival is making a comeback after having to take 2020 off. This year’s celebration is dedicated to Bolton Matthews, the founder and owner of Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish. He passed away on June 2, 2021, after a years-long battle with colon cancer.

In the memory of Matthews, and to celebrate the dish that helped put Nashville on the culinary map (for better or worse), head over to East Park on July 4 to feast on all the hot bird you can eat from Prince’s, Bolton’s, Hattie B’s, Hurts, Slow Burn, and more. The party starts at noon with a fire truck parade and there will also be burn-relieving beer and ice cream from Yazoo, Retro Sno, Pied Piper Creamery, and King of Pops.

The event is free to attend and proceeds from the day’s sales benefit Friends of Shelby Park and Bottoms.

Guerilla Bizkits to Open Storefront at Shoppes on Fatherland

Speaking of delicious food!

At-home cooking and baking soared over the past year. Banana bread, sourdough, that weird baked feta dish that actually turns into a deliciously rich pasta sauce when done properly — you probably saw, and maybe even shared, your fair share of photos and videos of all that and more on TikTok and Instagram.

Well, staying home and baking is what East Nashvillians Ali Humbrecht and Zach Halfhill did, too. Specifically, they baked biscuits, vegan biscuits, and after they both lost their jobs due to the pandemic, the two started to share the results of their baking experiments with friends around town as their way of staying connected to the world and maybe putting a little money in their pockets. With that, Guerilla Bizkits was born — the plant-based biscuit company is the result of combining Humbrect and Halfhill’s love of a good biscuit with their appreciation for hardcore music and the relentless aesthetic and ethos that often goes with it. 

At first, the biscuits came in only three flavors — the Straight Edge, a classic buttermilk recipe, the Loaded, inspired by Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuit and loaded with garlic and cheese, and the Blackout, a sweet and spicy combo of dried cherries and house-pickled jalapeños — and the only way to get ‘em was to order in advance through their website for weekend delivery. 

As demand grew, though — because of course it did, because Nashvillians love a good biscuit — so did Guerilla Bizkits offerings. Humbrecht and Halfhill expanded the menu to include Guerilla Bread, poppable biscuit bites rolled in cinnamon and sugar and topped with caramel sauce, and a vegan breakfast biscuit sandwich — made with BeHive sausage, a Just Egg patty, and housemade remoulade — that is currently served at Dose’s Riverside location. 

Now, just a year and change after Guerilla Bizkits first moshed into our stomaches, the couple — they got engaged in December — is putting the final touches on the biscuit business’ first storefront. 

The initial menu will be simple, they say — fresh biscuits, frozen three-packs, and cold brew from Crisis Cold Brew (another East Nashville-based pandemic project that took on a life of its own). But eventually, they hope to offer rotating specials, their fresh-made jams called, perfectly, Berry Brains, and partake in biscuit-related collaborations with other local eateries. Collaborations are where Guerilla Bizkit has shined — in June they worked with Conny and Jonny to introduce a limited-edition donut topped with strawberry glaze and biscuit crumble and in November they partnered with Hey Hootenanny to offer take-and-bake vegan chicken-n-dumplings.

Humbrecht and Halfhill have been raising money via an I Fund Women campaign, aiming to secure $45,000 to help them cover the costs of equipment, necessary construction on the new space, and supplies. They’ve raised $7,280 as of this week, with a month of fundraising left. Learn more about their mission and business plan here. You can stay updated on their shop’s progress — and get some A+ dog content — via their Instagram.

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Applications for Community Safety Grants are Open

Earlier this spring Mayor John Cooper took an important step towards addressing neighborhood violence when he introduced the Community Safety Partnership Fund and the Community Safety Partnership Advisory Board. The fund, Cooper said, will provide more than $1.5 million in funding to groups “working to prevent and reduce violence in Nashville,” while the advisory board — featuring eleven Nashvillians including Dr. Alex Jahangir, Judge Sheila Calloway, and Deputy Chief Dwayne Green — would make recommendations to the mayor regarding who would be awarded the grants. 

This week, the first wave of grant applications opened. Eligible nonprofits — meaning nonprofits that are registered with the IRS and the state and have a budget of less than $50,000 — are invited to apply for Opportunity Grants, an award of up to $5,000. Ultimately, up to $150,000 in grants will be given to organizations and neighborhood groups dedicated to reducing violence in Nashville’s neighborhoods, “particularly gun violence.”

“This first round of funding is intended to support grassroots organizations working to enhance community safety and reduce violence,” said Sharon Roberson, the president and CEO of YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee and one of the CSP advisory board leaders.

Larger organizations will be invited to apply for larger grants— known as Implementation Grants (ranging from $5,000-$250,000) — later this month.

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Care Pilot Project Has Launched

This week Metro also launched their “Nashville Partners in Care” project, a pilot program that “places mental health clinicians in police cars with MNPD officers” in both the North and Hermitage precincts. 

“The purpose of the project is to connect individuals to health care and services while ensuring the safety and well-being of community members, police officers, emergency medical responders, and clinicians,” said the Mayor’s office via press release. “Once called to the scene, MNPD officers will stabilize the situation so that clinicians from the Mental Health Cooperative can assess the individuals and connect them to the behavioral health care they need.”

The program aims to help those who need access to mental health services by directing them to the Mental Health Co-Op’s 24/7 walk-in Crisis Treatment Center, diverting them “away from Nashville’s jails and emergency rooms.” (A good thing, as police  officers generally aren’t trained to handle someone experiencing symptoms of a mental illness.)

The year-long program will also follow up with residents “to ensure continuity of care.”

Learn more about Nashville’s behavioral health and wellness services here.

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Quick Bits

Love Buzz

Did you ever notice the name of this feature? Love Buzz. Fitting because it’s a) always about a song I love and b) closing out the column East Side Buzz. A little on the nose, sure, but the phrase is also one of my favorite Nirvana songs, a song I learned on bass guitar when I was 14 years old and growing up in the Pacific Northwest in the ’90s. Seattle, and its rich, complicated music history, is in my blood. My heart pumps Heart. That’s true for Madison resident Shane Tutmarc, too. Years ago, while I was learning the ropes of music journalism in Seattle, Tutmarc was fronting a pop band called Dolour. Dolour was fantastic, a refreshing response to the region’s generally sarcastic rock.

Funnily, and for unrelated reasons, we both eventually made the move to Nashville. You’ve probably seen him around town, performing in Solar Twin or Shane Tutmarc & the Traveling Mercies. But Dolour, my first (and admittedly favorite) Tutmarc project appeared to be kaput.

Until now.

During the pandemic, Tutmarc reconnected with his Pacific Northwest roots and released The Royal We, the first Dolour album in more than 10 years. He followed it up this year with another Dolour release, Televangelist, a treasure trove of pop gems that recently, deservedly, won praise from Aimee Mann. Now, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Dolour’s 2001 debut, Tutmarc is reworking and rerecording all the songs that launched his music career in Seattle years ago. Origin Story is a collection of 15 songs that will be released in three batches over the summer. The first set of five songs dropped just last week.

For pure head-bobbing, hand-clapping goodness, check out Tutmarc’s new take on “Cleopatra Eyes,” a song that first appeared on Dolour’s 2001 debut release Waiting For a World War. It’s a little bit country, it’s a little bit rock pop and roll — it’s like my two worlds are colliding and I love every second of it.  And I hope you do, too.