Todd and Travis, at The 5 Spot, photographed by Travis Commeau

East Side Buzz, May 21

Prepare thy… eyes? I guess eyes. The May/June issue of The East Nashvillian will be dropping soon! 

If you’ve yet to catch up on the March/April issue, CLICK RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW. You can read through the whole thing — an interview with Todd Snider, a special pandemic edition of Know Thy Neighbor, and more — right there on your computer. 

The current issue is also always available in our online store — grab a Shelby Bottoms T-shirt while you’re there! You need new gear for summer! 

And now — and I say this in my best very serious television reporter voice — the news.

East Nashville Businesses Reopen, Respond to Lifted COVID-19 Restrictions

Almost immediately after Nashville health officials lifted all COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, May, 14, dozens of local businesses took to social media to enthusiastically announce their plans for reopening or expanding their business operations. But as businesses reopen, they’re now faced with the extra challenge of deciding on their own COVID-19 safety measures

Tanya Coe, owner-operator at the East Nashville boutique Goodbuy Girls, says her store is still requiring masks for the time being. 

“It’s normally just one person manning the store so we can’t check everyone’s vaccination card as they come in,” she says. “Not everyone has had a chance to get vaccinated yet and some people are still getting covid even once fully vaccinated.

“We are a small shop so it puts people in close quarters,” she adds. “Wearing a mask in our store while you shop is a very easy thing to do and until this virus stops spreading at such a rapid pace, we will continue to protect ourselves and our customers as best as we can.”

Annika Chaloff, owner of Hey Maven!, the size-inclusive lingerie shop in Shops at Porter East, is also still requiring masks. 

“Since there is no way to tell who is and is not vaccinated, the safest and most straightforward approach is to unilaterally require masks to be worn,” she tells The East Nashvillian. “Even though my entire staff, including myself, are vaccinated, and the chance of transmission to us is probably low, I feel responsible to protect not just myself and my team members, but also my customers.”

Still, customers aren’t always accommodating. Chaloff says the response to the shop’s mask requirement has been positive, save for one customer leaving after being asked to wear a mask. Still, she wonders how long that will last.

“I’m skeptical moving forward that shoppers will mind our mask-on in-shop policy for the long term,” she says. “I’m open to making changes to it when Nashville and Tennessee start to see vaccination rates climb.”

Coe has had a few issues at Goodbye Girls, too.

“Even with three ‘masks required’ signs placed outside of our shop, I would say about half of the people who come in the store don’t respect mask-wearing, and that has been a very challenging aspect to add to an already very challenging year.”

One shop that isn’t currently requiring masks is Retrograde Coffee. Co-founder Nathan Weinberg says the mask mandate put Retrograde’s staff in a difficult position. 

“We do highly encourage [masks], but it is the choice of the individual in this case,” he says. “We felt strongly that the enforcement of a mask mandate put our team in a position they did not sign up for, and we didn’t want to make them or anyone else feel uncomfortable.”

As of Thursday, Tennessee was 43rd in the country, with just 30.3-percent of the state’s population fully vaccinated. For reference, Maine tops the list with more than half of its population fully vaccinated. 

On Tuesday, days after the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, Brian Todd, a spokesman for Metro Public Health Department, told WXMV, “… even though it’s no longer required, we still recommend people wear a mask indoors, especially if you haven’t been vaccinated.”

Restrictions are lifted; expectations to be a decent human being are not. Get vaccinated. Wear a mask if you are not. Hell, wear a mask if you are! They are fashionable and they will keep you from getting sunburned by that blazing Southern sun!

Find a vaccination site near you at asafenashville.com. Kids 12 and up are now eligible and healthcare workers are also making home visits for homebound individuals. 

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The Wild Cow Open for Inside Dining

Big news for fans of the Wild Cow’s French Quarter Dip! (Me. I’m addressing myself here.) The beloved vegetarian restaurant reopened its dining room this week after more than a year of offering only takeout. (Which, yes, included the French Quarter Dip, but it’s just not as good if it’s not being devoured while still blisteringly hot straight out of the kitchen, you know?)

The Wild Cow had been in their new, and bigger, Fatherland Street location for just a few months before 2020 knocked them down. The March 3 tornado took out their power and forced them to close for a couple of weeks and not long after recovering from that, the pandemic hit.

“It’s been a crazy year for us for sure,” says co-owner Ryan Toll. “[The pandemic] definitely cut us down, and since we didn’t have a dining room that really cut down opportunities for shifts for a lot of our employees. Over the year we had to adapt as best we could.”

The restaurant was still able to keep up a decent amount of business, Toll says, partly because they already did a good amount of takeout business in the Before Times. Now, they’re looking forward to finally enjoying aspects of the new space they hadn’t yet had the chance to fully showcase before everything closed down. They have a patio, for one, and they also now have a full bar.

“We have some really great cocktails,” says Toll. “We’ve got four signature cocktails and a signature mocktail. We also have a lot of really great kombucha on tap and all the beer we sell is local. A lot of the liquor is local as well.”

The current cocktail menu includes a matcha mojito, a Primavera with rosemary-infused gin, and another drink featuring coffee and chicory liqueur with lime. Did I mention they have a patio? That matcha mojito sounds perfect for a patio.

For now, customers are being asked to wear masks when they’re inside and not sitting at their table. All the restaurant’s employees will continue wearing masks, too. Toll says The Wild Cow follows the CDC guidelines, which say vaccinated people no longer have to wear masks indoors, but he always wants the staff to feel safe. 

“It puts us in a weird position because I don’t want to expect or ask the front of the house staff to ask people if they’re vaccinated,” says Toll. “I took a poll and asked how all the employees and staff feel about it and everyone, for right now, felt more comfortable if they were wearing masks.”

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The 5 Spot Hosts a Fundraising Telethon Saturday

This Saturday The 5 Spot will take over the internet tubes for a good old-fashioned telethon. Music! Prizes! Stories! And more!

Hosts Todd Sherwood and Derek Hoke will be bringing their best Ed McMahon and Jerry Lewis energy to raise money for the bar as owners Sherwood and Travis Collinsworth prepare to reopen the space for in-person events next month.

“We will be hosting our first live in-person show nearly 15 months to the day of our last one, June 11, 2021,” says Collinsworth. “Tristen will be performing a live stream with a very limited audience on-premises. After that night, we plan to be fully open, though the booking calendar is still coming together.”

Like so many other music venues, The 5 Spot temporarily closed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The owners were able to do a quick pivot, though, and started using the space for virtual performances via the interactive livestream platform StagIt. That moved saved their business. 

“Livestreams have enabled us to keep a handful of people gainfully employed, they’ve allowed us to keep our brand relevant, and they’ve afforded us the opportunity to expand our capacities moving forward,” Collinsworth tells The East Nashvillian. “We plan on offering both live streaming and recording opportunities for bands as we move into post-Covid times.”

During the telethon, there will be fun bar stories told by 5 Spot staffers and friends, raffle prizes, and performances from half a dozen musicians — Robben Ford, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Lilly Hiatt, Brendan Benson, Thayer Sarrano, and Darrin Bradbury are all scheduled to perform. 

And because it wouldn’t be a telethon without some variety show-esque entertainment, Sherwood plans on getting a new tattoo live during the show. Chris Saint Clark from Kustom Thrills will permanently mark Sherwood’s skin with a design chosen by viewers at home.

“It’s a really dumb idea,” Sherwood said via email.

What are the chances he gets, “I was East Nashvillian of the Year and all I got is this lousy tattoo” scribbled across his chest? Or, I would also accept the Tasmanian Devil (aka Taz) slam dunking a tomato!

The telethon starts at 6 p.m. and can be viewed on the bar’s Facebook page or via YouTube here.

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The Nashville Symphony Returns

Speaking of exciting reopening news, The Nashville Symphony is back! The organization marks its 75th Anniversary season with more than 100 concerts at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. 

The line-up includes Revolution: The Music of the Beatles, Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique,” Kool & the Gang, Star Wars: The Force Awakens In Concert, and more.

Opening weekend begins June 16. Tickets are available here.

Sadly, Home Alone is not on the calendar, but A Muppet Christmas Carol is great, too.

Mat Kearney to Tour Nashville Friday

Yes, you read that right. Beat-loving singer-songwriter Mat Kearney is hitting the road, but he’s not going very far. He’s marking the release of his new album January Flower by visiting various neighborhoods — East Nashville, Germantown, 12South, and more — to perform short three-song sets from the back of Techel & Co’s glass truck.

How very David Blaine sounding!

The “tour” kicks off at Grimey’s at 1 p.m. and ends in 12South at 5 p.m. You can also follow the schedule on Kearney’s Instagram account. Check out his latest video below.

Quick Bits

  • The Nashville Human Association is open, too! They’ve been offering appointment-only adoptions for more than a year, but now you can go play with the puppies and kitties without advanced planning. Celebrate their good work this Sunday at the Mutt Strut fun run in Shelby Park.
  • Rusty Rats will officially open their new Shoppes on Fatherland location Saturday, May 22. The shop is now located inside the recently renovated pavilion, and their new space is about three times bigger than before. There will be snacks and door prizes and all the merchandise will be on sale — when you buy one item, get a second item for 40-percent off.
  • Is the McGavock House going to become a brewery? Maybe! 
  • Coneheads owners Marcus and Jennifer Buggs plan to open a cocktail bar called Plane Jane this summer. It will be in the same building as Coneheads at 1315 Dickerson Pike.
  • Pride in Local Music returns June 30. Austin and Nashville’s LGBTQ Chambers of Commerce have teamed up to produce their second livestream event featuring musicians from both cities. Participating Nashvillians include Shelly Fairchild with Alanna Royale, Adam Mac, John Tucker, the Blam Blams, and Bantug. The concert is free to watch at PrideInLocalMusic.com and donations are accepted. If you want to host a local watch party, visit prideinlocalmusic.com/watch-parties for information.
  • More eateries are opening in the Assembly Food Hall this weekend. Hattie Jane’s Creamery, The Pharmacy, Istanbul Shawarma, Prince’s Hot Chicken and more begin service Friday.
  • A Minneapolis-based development company purchased the lot at 900 Dickerson for $4.2 million. Dominium plans to build a residential building that includes affordable housing.

Love Buzz

This week, let’s listen to Tristen, who also happens to be the cover story of our upcoming May/June print edition! The local singer-songwriter will release a new full-length, Aquatic Flowers, on June 4 and one of the first singles, “Wrong With You,” is the perfect soundtrack for a May Day. 

With bright strums of the acoustic guitar and Tristen’s warm, sunny voice almost gleefully singing about self-doubt, it feels like a country-kissed vintage Juliana Hatfield jam. 

Tristen’s record release show, Tristen the Night Away 2, is June 11 at The 5 Spot. She and her band will perform the record in its entirety in front of a very limited audience (tickets are sold out, buddies, sorry), and the show will be broadcasted live via StageIt. And what’s a party without special guests, right? Comedian Chris Crofton will host and there will also feature virtual performances from Jenny Lewis, Robyn Hitchcock, Vanessa Carlton, Brain Fallon, Daisha McBride and so many more. 

Now, I dare you to listen to this song and not go waltz around a field of flowers while simultaneously basking in and cursing love.