Tomorrow is the first day of Spring. We made it, y’all. We survived the longest winter of our entire lives. Daffodils are beaming, trees are turning white and pink with blossoms … Of course, now we’ll have to play that unfun game of “Is it COVID or allergies?” for the next several weeks, but still, I am very much looking forward to warmer, sunny days.
And what does Spring hold besides pollen up the nose? The March/April issue of The East Nashvillian! The newest print edition will be on stands very soon and gracing the cover is East Nashville’s own Todd Snider. The prolific songwriter will release his 19th solo album First Agnostic Church of Hope and Wonder on April 23.
His new single, “Turn Me Loose (I’ll Never Be the Same),” is a fun bluesy and rootsy jam inspired by his friend and mentor “Mr. Bojangles” songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker, who died of throat cancer in October.
You’ll be able to read more about Snider and his album in the new issue, so for now, check out the video for “Turn Me Loose (I’ll Never Be the Same)” below. It was filmed at The Purple Building in Five Points, where Snider has been performing free livestreams throughout the past year, including one session where he paid tribute to Walker by performing a dozen of his hits — “The Stranger (He Was the Kind),” “L.A. Freeway,” “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother,” “Mr. Bojangles,” and more.
And while we’re talking about Snider, if you haven’t already, give a listen to his 1994 song “Talking Seattle Grunge Rock Blues.” It’s a satirical tune about a Seattle band who doesn’t play a single note because silence is “music’s original alternative.” I say this as a former Seattleite: the song is hilarious.
Financial Aid Available for Renters
On Monday, the Metropolitan Action Commission opened the HOPE Portal, a $20 million fund that will offer financial assistance to thousands of households — both renters and landlords — in Nashville, beginning with those who are facing eviction.
“With the $20.8 million that the city received from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the agency estimates the HOPE program will help over 5,000 residents impacted by COVID-19 to catch up past due rent and utility payments up to 12 months behind,” reads the press release.
Anyone who is unable to pay their rent is encouraged to apply, and all applications are being handled online. Applicants without computer access can visit Metro Action’s main office at 800 Second Ave. N. to apply via their on-site kiosks.
Metro Action has also set up a HOPE Portal call center — call 615-862-RENT (7368), Mon-Sat 7 a.m.-7 p.m. if you have any questions or need help with your application.
Let the Food Truck Roll
What do successful musicians and creatives do when COVID-19 guts the entire touring industry? In the case of Doug and Telisha Williams of the folk-rock band Wild Ponies and their friend and touring photographer Laura Schneider, you get back on the road by starting a food truck.
Dreamers was founded in the midst of the pandemic, while the Williams and Schneider, like so many of us, tried to find joy in small things like cooking comforting meals for one another. But they wanted to do more than just make pizzas and grain bowls for customers — seeing a growing need for resources, they also wanted to serve the community and supply food for Nashvillians who were experiencing homelessness and hunger.
Part of Dreamers’ initial business plan was to hold quarterly food drives, where they would distribute 100 extra meals every few months through Southern Alliance for People and Animal Welfare (SAFPAW), a local non-profit organization Doug and Telisha have supported for years.
Plans changed in November — just two weeks after launching, the Dreamers truck caught on fire while on the road. Everyone was OK, but much of the truck’s interior was destroyed. They had an entire weekend’s worth of ingredients at their commissary kitchen at East Nashville’s Citizens Kitchen and no way to serve it. That’s when they decided to make soup. And lots of it.
“We had ingredients that were going to be wasted,” Telisha says. “So we decided to take those ingredients and turn those into meals for SAFPAW. That first day we just had 38 meals. And then it was our fans, Wild Ponies fans and Laura Schneider Photography fans, jumping in when they saw the news about the fire and asking, ‘How can we help you?’ ‘Can we sponsor meals?’ ‘How do we keep your business going?’ So then we developed the “Soupscription” program. Local Nashvillians could pre-order soups for pickup and people from all over the world could sponsor bowls that would go out with SAFPAW.”
In the beginning, they hoped to serve 400 meals. By March 16, they achieved nearly four times that, serving up about 350 gallons of soup to those in need.
“We’ve served 1,500 meals and the soup service is going to be an annual thing,” says Telisha. “And now, on the food truck, one of the menu items is going to be a pay-it-forward menu item, so anytime somebody comes to buy food from us, if they want to add to that pay-it-forward menu item, we’ll collect that and once a month we’ll settle up with SAFPAW and serve those meals.”
The Dreamers truck, outfitted with a vintage Blodgett pizza oven that survived November’s fire, will be back on the road starting the first week in April, going back to serving pizza and grain bowls at the East Nashville Farmers Market, Richland Park Farmers’ Market, and Jackalope Brewery, among other locations.
Telisha says they may even incorporate the truck into some Wild Ponies tour dates as live music begins to make a comeback.
“We definitely see this working alongside our music career,” she says. “As we release our next record, which we’re doing demos for right now, we’re talking about doing a small tour with the food truck.
“We’re not gonna take this to the West Coast,” she adds with a laugh, “but I feel like we can do a five-seven date southeast, regional tour with the food truck.”
Follow Dreamers on Instagram to keep track of where they’ll be popping up next.
Land of the Land Updates
This week Massachusetts-based investing firm RMR Group paid $7.6 million for a plot of land on the East Bank. In October the group proposed redeveloping almost 17 acres of land in the area, saying they’d like to build several office, residential and retail buildings.
Envision Cayce, the plan to build more than 2,000 units of affordable housing in East Nashville, continues to progress. According to WKRN.com, “463 mixed-income units are completed, with 299 of those completed in the last 13 months.”
Only in Nashville
The massive vaccination event at Nissan Stadium is happening this Saturday, March 20, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Plan your travel in the area accordingly. All vaccination appointments were claimed within two hours of the website launching last week and if you were one of the lucky 10,000 to snag a spot, Yihyun Jeong at The Tennessean has everything you need to know before you go here. And because this is Music City, the city has announced there will also be live performances throughout the day to entertain the crowd as they wait their turn. Weird? Sure. But so very Nashville. 💉
Local sports mascots — T-Rac, Gnash, Booster, and Tempo the Coyote — and the Tennessee Titans cheerleaders will also be working the crowd because sure, why not.
Mayor Cooper says via a press release, “After the most difficult year in our history, vaccines are helping us turn the corner on the pandemic. Nashville is famous for having world-class live music nearly everywhere you turn. I’m grateful to these artists and all our partners for adding a touch of Music City to our March 20 vaccination event. The line to get immunized at Nissan Stadium will be the best line that anyone has waited in.”
In other COVID-19 news, Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey announced during a press conference on Tuesday that she believes Tennessee will be able to offer all adults a COVID-19 vaccine by May 1, a deadline President Joe Biden set on March 11 during his first prime-time national address.
As of Tuesday, March 16, 10% of Nashvillians have been fully vaccinated.
Visit asafenashville.org to find out which vaccine phase you’re part of, schedule an appointment, and get updates on how many doses have been administered throughout the city.
- Remember when the historical commission voted to approve the removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust from the state capitol? Well, Republican Senator Joey Hensley has introduced a bill to remove members of the historical commission. Super mature. Where can I introduce a bill to remove Sen. Hensley?
- Speaking of bills, the medical marijuana bill continues to advance through the general assembly.
- HiFi Cookies and Tailgate Brewery have partnered up to make the new Johnny Cocoa Pastry Stout, a beer inspired by the cookie shop’s extra chocolatey Johnny Cash-inspired Johnny cookie. (The Johnny cookie, by the way, is seriously rich and decadent — a brownie disguised as a cookie, really, and a must-have if you like chocolate.) The stout will be available via draft and cans starting Friday, March 19, at all three Tailgate locations.
- In other sweet news, Dolly Parton is about to get her own Jeni’s ice cream flavor! What will it be? 🎵 “Vanilla bean, vanilla bean, vanilla bean, vanilla beeeaannn…”? 🎵 sung to the tune of “Jolene”? Or maybe Lime to 5! Oh, what about Islands in the Cream, an ice cream dotted with “islands” of pecan sandies and a river of blue raspberry sauce? No, no, that’s too obvious. I hope it’s Dumb (Butterscotch) Blondie. That’d be delicious.
- Metro Public Works has a new app with trash and recycling information. Is it kind of nerdy to get excited about a trash app? Yes. But I am very excited about this! Not only will it give you trash and recycling pick-up reminders (a much-needed feature as time and days of the week have ceased to exist in the pandemic), but the “Waste Wizard” will tell you how to dispose of more than 200 different items, including hazardous materials, old appliances, compostable waste and more. Now if only we could get our recycling picked up more than once a month.
- Soft Junk + Be Good Market host a “Howdy Spring“ event from noon to 6 p.m., Sunday, March 21, at 919 Gallatin Ave. Spicy Boy’s will be bringing the crawfish boil, plus there will be plenty of vendors and live music from Madi Diaz, Country Westerns, and more.
- The Nashville Public Library’s main location as well as the Madison and Southeast branches will open their doors to the public starting March 31.
- Mark your calendar: CMT Crossroads is returning Friday, March 26, one year after halting production due to the pandemic. Margo Price and Nathaniel Rateliff are the featured guests.
I know I already gave love to Mickey Guyton in this week’s Grammy wrap-up, but her song “Black Like Me” deserves extra attention. Guyton was the first Black woman to be nominated for Best Country Solo Performance and though she didn’t win — congrats, I guess, Vince Gill (again) — her stunning performance of the ground-breaking song has rightfully earned her heaps of new attention.
Since her Grammy performance, “Black Like Me” was added to new radio rotation and Guyton reportedly sold 1,600 copies of the song, which Billboard.com says was a 13,225-percent increase from March 13. Faith Hill posted Guyton’s performance to her 1.3 million Instagram followers, Genius.com reported “Black Like Me” lyrics saw an 11,500-percent jump in page views, and, according to RollingStone, Guyton’s “overall catalog saw a whopping 4,870% increase in song sales and 7,800% increase in digital album sales Sunday compared to Saturday.”
GET IT, GUYTON.