East Side Buzz, Oct. 1

With the sad news this week that downtown music venue complex Mercy Lounge/Cannery Ballroom/The High Watt would be closing its doors in May, combined with the other sad news this week that downtown late-night diner The Hermitage Cafe will be closing — the diner posted on Facebook it just received the news and will make a statement next week — the question that’s been hanging around in the minds of many should be rushed to the front of the line: What does Nashville want to be?

How many music venues and other local institutions can you shutter before the character of the town is changed? How many mixed-use developments do we really need? Like, seriously? I want to know. Because nobody I know, other than the people making money, seems to be excited about this stuff, and there aren’t even enough workers to staff the businesses Nashville has now.

The very first time I came to Nashville — on a road trip with my dad — we saw Cat Power perform at Mercy Lounge. That experience, along with my first impression of Nashville being a city unlike any other, is burnt into my mind. Years later, after I moved here, I found that, surprisingly, there were not many good diners — late night or otherwise — in Nashville. The Hermitage Cafe — which opens at 10 p.m. — is an exception, and I can’t imagine downtown without it.

The whys and whats of these announcements are unknown at the moment, but one can look around and make an educated guess about what’s going on.

“They must kill everything until everything is a boutique hotel/condo high rise/cool bar!” my friend Dylan, a Nashville native, said recently.

Perhaps there’s an upside to change? Maybe my cynical newsman’s view is all wrong? Based on a recent conversation about Five Points development with Metro Nashville District 6 Councilmember Brett Withers, it would seem Five Points development, at least, will be a boon to the neighborhood, with new businesses connecting the previous checkerboard-like pattern of businesses spread apart by parking lots. Visitors will be more inclined to keep walking, therefore spending more money at more businesses. 

Perhaps there’s a way for us to make some money off the whole deal — not sell out, but buy-in, man. Any ideas? Start a hot sauce business, perhaps? I’m all ears. If we make enough money, we can just go on vacation all the time, to other once-cool, unique cities that have also been transformed into condo towns…

Nashville is still cool, but for how much longer? (As my editor reminds me, that’s a question folks have been asking for a very. long. time.)

Matters of Development

After suffering considerable damage from the Mar. 3, 2020 tornado — including a tree literally cutting the building in half — Beyond The Edge Sportsbar in Five Points reopened Sept. 9, with limited hours and a limited menu. “We weren’t ready, but we didn’t want to miss football season,” said owner Matt Charette. The nearby Boston Commons and Drifters Tennessee Barbeque restaurants, also owned by Charette, were damaged in the tornado as well. Boston Commons was able to open in February, but Drifters has yet to open, and Charette does not yet have an opening date. “It was just too much, mentally, to be working on all three places at the same time,” says Charette. “Drifters is almost ready to go, we’re just waiting on staff.” 

A construction crew was spotted working on the 1000 Woodland St. lot this week, formerly home to Dollar General. The property, owned by Nashville-based Magnolia Investment Partners, will eventually be home to two new restaurants, in two new buildings, says Metro Nashville District 6 Councilmember Brett Withers. “For some reason, that parcel has taken forever to get their grading permit from Metro Water,” says Withers. “Construction is just now beginning.” Edley’s Bar-B-Que will be one of the restaurants, moving from its Main Street location. 

Across 10th Street, the two tornado-damaged Hill Center Five Points buildings — formerly home to Burger Up and other businesses — are being rebuilt. The property’s two-story office building appears to be nearing completion. The second floor will be home to the Hawkins Partners landscape architecture firm. The new corner restaurant building, with a rooftop bar, remains under construction. “Burger Up decided not to return,” said Withers. “Some of the stuff in that block, from the restaurant standpoint, they did not have the foot traffic they would have wanted.” The leasing department for H.G. Hill Realty Co., which owns the property, did not return a request for an interview by deadline. 

The three-story building at 1012 Main St. — in between Duke’s and The 5 Spot — is being built as townhomes but will operate as a hotel, according to Withers. There will also be a small restaurant space in the building and a small parking lot. “A lot of people are surprised — it does have a small rear parking lot,” said Withers. Additionally, Metro has required a sidewalk to be added, along with other improvements. “If you walk by it, most of the new sidewalk has been poured, planning strips with street trees … they are adding a parking lane … they are kinda widening Main Street a little,” he said. 

The 1000 Main St. property that is home to Duke’s and Shep’s Delicatessen has recently been put on the market, creating some uncertainty, for Duke’s at least. “Unfortunately, we’re as much in the dark as anyone else,” says Sara Nelson of Duke’s. “We do have a lease for a few more years, but anything can happen when and if a property changes hands. … We only have control over what happens inside our tiny little corner of the neighborhood, and we hope to be there for many, many years. We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing until someone makes us stop!” 

A representative from Calypso Cafe, which closed its 301 Gallatin Ave. location in East Nashville in March 2020, due to COVID-19, has told The East Nashvillian that the restaurant will be reopening. “I’m not sure the opening date yet, but we are beginning to hire staff and get the space ready. WE ARE SO EXCITED TO BE BACK!!!” Allison Wills Brooks said in an email. 

Bans Off Our Bodies: March in Defense of Abortion Saturday

Planned Parenthood and the Women’s March are telling Tennessee lawmakers to keep their hands off women’s bodies, with a march Saturday at The Tennessee State Capitol, beginning at 4 p.m. 

The march is part of a national action that will see marches in 50 states, in a response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision declining to block Texas’s recent abortion ban — a law which gives anyone, including curbside clinic protesters and abusive partners the right to sue a Texan who helps someone get an abortion, with an incentive of at least $10,000. 

In Tennessee, marches will be held in Chattanooga, Cookeville, Knoxville, Memphis, and Murfreesboro. 

“This is in reaction to a pretty alarming situation, in that Texas recently completely banned abortion — and the Supreme Court upheld it, which indicated the new reality in the courts,” said Francie Hunt, Executive Director of Tennessee Advocates For Planned Parenthood. 

The Texas law bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which is before most women know they’re pregnant. 

In Tennessee, there are already two abortion bans on the books — one which will automatically find abortion banned in Tennessee if Roe v. Wade is diminished, even partially. According to Hunt, this is concerning because the Supreme Court has decided to hear arguments challenging Roe v. Wade in a Mississippi abortion case this Fall. 

This means that Tennessee is potentially facing a possible total abortion ban within a matter of months, according to Planned Parenthood. 

Another Tennessee abortion ban passed in 202 bans abortion at a total of 11 different stages of the pregnancy — from 24 weeks to six weeks — presenting a potential individual legal challenge for each individual stage. 

“This legislature and our governor wants to test (Roe v. Wade) as much as they possibly can,” said Hunt. “The way they wrote it is so they can take it to court as much as possible.” 

Hunt is expecting upwards of 3,000 people at Saturday’s march, which will begin at The Capitol, and end at the U.S. District Court building, 801 Broadway, where marchers will be projecting images on the courthouse building. 

The march will stop for a mid-way rally at the AT&T building, 333 Commerce St. 

“AT&T is the top financial contributor to the sponsors of Senate Bill 8, which is the Texas abortion ban,” said Hunt. 

Though abortion opponents hold a majority in the Tennessee legislature — which meets for a special session Oct. 18 — Hunt said it’s still important for Tennesseans to be heard. 

“Fundamentally, all that matters is what the people believe. We do know, both in Tennessee — polls show — and nationally, Democrats and Republicans want Roe v. Wade to remain the law of the land,” she said. 

Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood requests that attendees register to receive specific details about the event. 

It’s Fright Night at The Groove

Thashana McQuiston

Tonight marks the fourth annual return of Fright Night Fridays, presented by The Groove, VHS Podcast, and local label Spooky Ghoul Records (The East Nashvillian is also a sponsor). The free movie night, taking place every Friday in October — with free popcorn! — features horror movies curated by Michael Combs, Chris Polk, and Jonn Nicholson of VHS Podcast. (Combs also owns The Groove.) The flicks will be projected in The Groove’s backyard. 

This week’s movie is the 1973 classic, The Exorcist, and starts at 7:30 p.m. Bring a chair or blanket and whatever you’d like to drink. Costumes are encouraged. 

The film will be introduced by local actor, writer, and lifelong horror movie fan Thashana McQuiston.

“(The Exorcist) continues to have an impact, because it will always tap into, sort of that fear of, sometimes really bad things happen to people. You have this story where it’s a young girl who really doesn’t do anything to deserve this awful thing that’s happened to her,” said McQuiston. “I think we all sort of have that fear of that, and being overtaken by something you don’t have any power over.”

McQuiston, who once witnessed people run out of a movie theater during a screening of The Exorcist, says she’s jealous of people who haven’t seen it.

“You’ll never be able to get to see a movie like that for the first time, but the beauty is when you can share those things with someone who hasn’t seen it, it’s the closest you’ll get to seeing it again for the first time,” she said.

Video Premiere: Nightingail’s “Trouble”

The new video for Nightingail’s “Trouble” (premiered earlier today by The East Nashvillian) should come with a trigger warning for anyone who has experienced relationship trouble — or just loneliness — during a Nashville winter. 

If the song wasn’t good — a laid-back, neo-soul jam described by Nightingail’s Alicia Gail as “an honest view of a toxic relationship and how the one you have with yourself is just as real as one with another human being” — and if the gorgeous, minimalist video by local videographer Daniel Yocum didn’t paint such an accurate picture, emotionally and visually, of a Nashville winter, we might not suggest you watch it. But you should. 

Quick Bits

  • A $300 million mixed-use development is planned for McFerrin Park, the Nashville Post reports.
  • East Nashville plant-based foodseller The Be-Hive will celebrate its 10th anniversary Saturday, Oct. 2, at East Nashville Beer Works. The free event runs from noon to 4 p.m. (VIP access is $40 and begins at 11 a.m.) Many local food vendors will be on hand, as well as deejays from QDP
  • Giving Kitchen is offering free health services for food service workers, with its Pop-Up Doc event Sunday. 
  • Kidizenship, a non-profit media platform, is inviting children ages 8-18 to write their own national anthem with the “Sing Your Anthem” competition. Judges include musicians Jason Isbell and Rhiannon Giddens, and kids can win up to $1,000. The deadline for entries is Oct. 12. 
  • Metro Nashvillle began offering COVID-19 vaccine booster shots on Sept. 24, at its 2491 Murfreesboro Pike and 350 28th Ave. N. testing locations. 
  • The Nashville Film Festival kicked off yesterday and runs through Oct. 6.
  • Music Venue Alliance – Nashville is holding its first public-facing event since forming at the beginning of the pandemic, the Exit-Independent mixer and artist showcase, Oct. 4 at Exit/In.
  • East Nashville Beer Works will be hosting a pop-up beer garden, benefitting Friends of Shelby, at Shelby Park on Oct. 9, 16, and 23, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. “Saturdays by the River” will feature a beer garden, food trucks, music, and yard games.

Love Buzz

Soccer Mommy’s 2020 release Color Theory was one of my very favorite albums of last year. Released Feb. 28, it hit just as COVID-19 did, and it was a comforting coincidence that the record so beautifully captured many of the complicated emotions only exacerbated by the pandemic.

The album is a tender, vulnerable excavation of lifelong mental illness — singer/songwriter Sophia Allison, who performs under the name Soccer Mommy, lays bare all the ways in which depression and anxiety have impacted her relationships with friends and family, with each song framed within the colors of the seasons. In “Circle the Drain” she wishes she could be calm “like the soft summer rain on your back.” In “Bloodstream” she sings about an unrelenting sadness despite the “hydrangeas blooming off the branches of park trees.”

The album arrived at the perfect time. Spring was springing but the world was burning. It was a bittersweet reminder that whatever it is we’re going through, we’re rarely the only ones, no matter how isolated we may feel.

Soccer Mommy’s new song, “Rom Com 2004,” once again explores highly relatable emotional turmoil, and she approaches the subject with the same warm and soft compassion we’ve come to expect. In the love song — or, rather, the end-of-love song — Allison hopes for a second chance while simultaneously realizing that her desire for rekindled romance is pushing her into unhealthy territory. She asks, “What does it say about me?” that she’s willing to die in the arms of her love and rip out her own heart? 

Industrial, doomy distortion breaks through the song’s sweetness, hinting that Allison knows she’s trudging into dangerous territory but whether or not she cares enough or is able to turn back remains to be seen. 

Soccer Mommy plays Cannery Ballroom Friday, Oct. 1. Tickets were — surprisingly — still available as of this writing. Squirrel Flower opens and proof of vaccination or a negative PCR/rapid test is required for entry.

“Love Buzz” is curated by contributor Megan Seling. 

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