Amythyst Kiah Photo by Sandlin Gaither

East Side Buzz, June 18

IT’S BAAACK! The one, the only, Tomato Art Fest returns in its fully-fledged form on August 13 and 14. That’s right, kids young and old, the heat-soaked celebration of the mighty tomato — a Uniter not a Divider, which makes no distinction between the fruits and the vegetables — is due for a landing in Five Points and we couldn’t be more excited! What’s more, we’ll once again join in the festivities with a July/August special edition where you’ll find the festival map, event guide, and maybe even some tomato erudition.

For the business-executive tomatoes out there, you won’t find a better way to let folks know you’re still here. There’s a direct line between helping us keep the lights on and helping the community we serve. Let us hook you up to our audience in a way that’s best suited to your needs, be it through print and/or digital ads, sponsorships, socials — or all of the above! But wait, there’s more! Voting for the Best of East begins right about the time the July/August edition hits the streets, so don’t miss this opportunity! Our sales team (who call themselves the Wolf Peaches) is standing by to assist with your marketing needs, so act now! sales@theeastnashvillian.com

The 6th Annual Black Music Honors Ceremony Airs This Saturday

Yesterday, Thursday, June 17, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law making Juneteenth a federal holiday. Celebrated on June 19, the holiday recognizes the freedom of enslaved people at the end of the Civil War. The date corresponds with Union General Gordon Granger’s arrival in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, when he issued the proclamation:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

Although the Emancipation Proclamation had been enacted over two years earlier on January 1, 1863, many Blacks living in the Confederacy were unaware of it and, of course, Confederate slave-holders had no intention of making them so. Initially celebrated by newly freed Texans, the date gained recognition elsewhere as they began moving to neighboring southern states and beyond.

And while many states had, individually, formally recognized Juneteenth, the new law codifies the holiday at the federal level — the first new national holiday since the enactment of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 1983.

Thursday’s signing will no doubt add a new dimension to this year’s Juneteenth celebrations!

On Saturday, June 19, the 6th annual Black Music Honors ceremony will air on Bounce TV. The event, filmed here in Nashville at City Winery, honors Henry Beecher Hicks III and the National Museum of African American Music with the Legacy Award. Speech from Arrested Development is making an appearance, and performers include Cece Winans, Montell Jordan (🎵This is hoooow we dooooo it!🎵), Jacquees, and more.

Speaking of NMAAM, the museum is hosting a Juneteenth Block Party at the Fifth and Broadway Assembly Hall on Saturday. The party starts at 11 a.m. and it’s free to attend.

The African American Cultural Alliance is hosting a Proclamation Ceremony at Fort Negley Park as part of their Juneteenth615 Celebration. There will be live music, food trucks, and fireworks and while the family-friendly event is free, they are asking folks to RSVP here.

Another Juneteenth option is The Music City Freedom Festival. It starts at noon on Saturday at Hadley Park and there’ll be food trucks, music, local vendors, and a kid’s inflatable play area. (Do you think they’d let a 41-year-old woman jump in the bouncy house, too? Just wondering.)

Of course, as Jamel Campbell-Gooch pointed out on Twitter, showing up and partying isn’t the only way to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. If you want to do even more for the community to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved Americans, consider donating to Moving Nashville Forward, a pilot program that aims to address poverty by giving 100 families in North Nashville a guaranteed basic income for one year.

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Can the East Bank Really Offer Affordable Housing?

Earlier this month, Metro’s affordable housing task force released a report that as the Mayor’s Office says, “details steps Nashville can take in the next three years to address its pressing affordable housing needs.”

Mayor Cooper says the city is already addressing five of the task force’s nine recommendations — including his plan to triple the city dollars for affordable housing, which he presented in his budget plan in April. But this week the Nashville Post reported the report’s recommendations may not be realistically applicable to Oracle’s plans for the East Bank development. One member of the task force, Marshall Crawford, the CEO of the Housing Fund, says if the development is built with for-profit builders, it’s unlike the affordable housing will be “accessible for low-to-moderate-income individuals.”

The Post’s story, which includes an interview with Crawford, is worth a read. You can read the full 40-page affordable housing report here.

In other affordable housing news, the Post also reports that Amazon has committed $75 million to affordable housing, helping developers build 800 homes near areas served by WeGo. More here.

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Developing Developments

Chris Saint Clark’s Kustom Thrills Tattoo shops have had an eventful spring — not only has the original location on Main Street been remodeled, but the second location in Cleveland Park has moved to Riverside, into the storefront formerly occupied by The Catio. (The Catio moved to Music Valley Drive, near Opryland, in December 2019.)

“We downsized the footprint at Main,” says Saint Clark. “It’s only 1,000 square feet smaller, but now all the artists are in one big room together. We’ve ditched the old red color and updated the interior with a more regal look. Button-tufted couch and chandeliers and soothing color scheme.”

Kustom Thrills Riverside has the same artists as the Cleveland Park location did, Saint Clark says — including Kustom Thrills co-owner Adam Wakitsch and cosmetic tattooer Briana Walker — but both studios have new hours. They’re open daily from noon to 8 p.m. and while walk-ins are welcome, appointments are encouraged.

There’s a new addition over on Woodland Street — Van Gogh’s Wine Bar is a new wine bar and beer garden that just opened in the former Rumours East space. The business is owned by chef Kevin Roberts, the host of TLC’s food show BBQ PitMasters, and the bar features 15 wines by the glass or bottle, 20 craft beers, and house-made spritzers and sangria. They also have a food menu and dogs are welcome in the garden area.

And! As mentioned in the June 4 edition of East Side Buzz, Daisy May Hat Co. has opened a shop in East Nashville at 1100 Douglas Ave., and owner Gage Speas is celebrating both his new store and his birthday with a grand opening party today (June 18) at 7 p.m. There will be raffles, beer, free hot dogs, and more. 

Quick Bits:

Love Buzz

On Friday, June 18, Bandcamp is recognizing Juneteenth by donating its share of sales to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the organization that fights for racial justice. This week, instead of featuring a single local artist, I wanted to offer up several local Black artists who have music and other merchandise available for purchase on Bandcamp. Support local music, support the NAACP, it’s a win-win.

Amythyst Kiah, Wary + Strange

Today Amythyst Kiah releases her new album Wary + Strange, her first full-length record since 2013’s Dig and it has, deservedly, won all kinds of accolades. Not only was she featured in a glowing New York Times article, but she also recently performed her single “Black Myself” on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Pick up something by Our Native Daughters, the band Kiah is in with Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla, and Allison Russell, while you’re at it.

Kyshona Armstrong, Listen

Kyshona Armstrong’s 2020 release is the best album of her career. With this collection of soulful and rootsy tunes, the singer commands her audience to see the racism Black Americans have experienced for generations. Don’t sleep on her latest release, a live album titled Live at the Sanctuary, either.

Allison Russell, Outside Child

I gushed over Allison Russell in last week’s edition of East Side Buzz, but consider this your reminder to grab her fantastic new record Outside Child. The album is also available on 180-gram orange vinyl, too.