An East Nashville Field Guide
Hey, did you guys hear that Steve Poltz moved here? That’s so kick-ass and crazy. Lots of good people have moved here, and I’m happy for it. You old-timers know most of this stuff, but for all you newbies, welcome, and here’s my field guide to East Nashville.
Driving: My friend Aaron Lee Tasjan once dedicated a song to “all the people trying to take a left on Gallatin.” Traffic is a situation. The lights make no sense. I’m pretty sure that the best parties in town take place at the traffic planning committee meetings. There’s no way sober people are making these decisions.
5 Points: 5 Points is the command post. You got your Purple Building (even though it’s not purple right now). Stick an ear on the door from time to time. Some great bands jam in there. Cumberland Hardware is awesome and has cats. I buy all my hammers there.
There’s great food. I’ll lay money on the 3 Crow having the best burger in town. Try the catfish at TENN16, the BLT at Marché, and you are crazy town if you don’t get a dog from I Dream of Weenie. There are great bars. The 5 Spot is my bar. If you know who Townes Van Zandt is, it’s probably your bar, too. If not, you might be more comfortable at Margo. I can’t say for sure, I was only in there once, but I could tell that those weren’t Townes’ people.
The gas station there is technically called “Benny’s Market.” Benny runs it and he’s amazeballs and has great stories. Say hello and introduce yourself. He’s lovely!
Coffee: I don’t want to disparage anyone here; I’ve been down that road with this publication before, and it was a mess. So I won’t mention Barista Parlor, but I will say there is a parody Instagram account for them, and it rules. I love the upstairs at Portland Brew, the patio at Ugly Mugs. The Post is growing on me, and Sip Café has ice cream. If you are into brewing your own, check out Bean Central.
Kroger: OK, here is the truth. It’s not a good or bad situation. They both have their charms. The Inglewood one is bigger and brighter and always has the sodas I use to make my evening cocktail with. The one at Eastland is a bit . . . um . . . rougher. But George works there. He’s amazing. You’ll know him from bagging groceries or bringing in carts. He’s recognizable as he is clearly operating on another vibrational level. I love him. Fun fact: He’s also a brilliant organist. Ask him when he plays next and go. Your mind will be blown!
The Hang: Live music? The Basement East — or The Beast, as locals call it. No live jams your jam? Mickey’s. It’s a good, old-fashioned, sit-and-talk-shit bar. The Family Wash is just home. Go for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Go for the Carpetbaggers Local 615 — they play every Tuesday night — and kiss Jamie Ruben for being a hero.
Tips and Tricks: Riverside can make a good alternative to Gallatin. So can Ellington Parkway. Bolton’s is it for Hot Chicken. Shelby Park/Shelby Bottoms has some damn beautiful trails and running paths. Hair World by the Firestone across from No. 308 is a gold mine. The Tomato Art Fest is a must. This magazine is a great resource. Be Cool is kind of our motto, and “Play a Train Song” is our theme. Some of us get kinda sensitive about it. Developers can’t block roads without a permit. Make them show it or let you through. FYI, it’s illegal for them to work on Sunday.
Rumors and Lies: Skip Litz (RIP) was and will always be the unofficial Mayor of East Nashville. I will forever mourn the loss of the Flatlander Enchiladas at the Alley Cat. You’re so East Nashville if you have a dog that came from the upstairs of the Radio Café. Todd Snider did indeed host many a fireworks show on the golf course. And yes, we were high as hell.
There was door-to-door caroling on the night of Christmas Eve. It started in Little Hollywood and made its way to the 3 Crow. We picked up all kinds of characters along the way. I loved it. There were front porch parties where people like Cowboy Jack and WS Holland would jam. Everyone was invited. Summer nights used to sound like cicadas, garage bands in the distance, and Phoenix Radio. . . . OK, I’m just getting sentimental now.
Shit Happens: This is a neighborhood in transition. It’s a weird ’hood. Always has been, and I suspect always will be. That’s its beauty. But in case of emergency, there’s 911 or 615-862-8600, the direct line to the nonemergency dudes. I’ve used it for some weird shit. You probably will, too.