This is a quality I look for in cities, places, occupations: the ability to chameleon yourself into your surroundings, hiding away or even disappearing in plain sight. I mean, we all want to be seen– some of us more than others – but often the best moments, or best people, are the ones who can keep something close to their pocket, hold back a little, reserving themselves for word of mouth or air of mystery.
For their Nashville Five, Buffalo Clover decided to explore Nashville’s best unknowns. Now that the city is subject to “listicles” left and right from every major outlet lauding our best coffee shops and artisan denim, the act of hovering in the shadows is a more difficult task. Which is sometimes a shame, because a full range of sunlight can really dim our colors, like a tattered poster hung too close to the window.
But other things, like good music, shouldn’t remain under cover. Take Buffalo Clover, who released their newest LP, Test Your Love, on Tuesday, and it’s full of booming horns, thumping, vintage riffs and soulful grooves lead by the unstoppable Margo Price. The fact that I may choose to listen to it in the privacy of my own bedroom, cranked up loud, dancing around in a shirt and socks Risky Business-style is best left unknown…well, unseen at least. (P.S., they also have a seemingly endless collection of impressive haberdashery).
Top five Nashville unknowns by Buffalo Clover :::
1). Bar- Smereldos: Smereldos is the best bar you can remain anonymous in. In the same way people discovered Dino’s, Santa’s and Twin Kegs, Smereldos might as well be your favorite new bar. On Gallatin Road, down in Madison, it appears to be some sort of Inn from the outside. There’s a glowing sign with plastic letters arranged to say, ‘Free Pool 3-6’. You walk into the place and it’s decor looks like some scene from The Shining or Goodfellas. Through the big, red ominous doors you’ll find incredible wallpaper, a sunken bar, cozy booths, a TV that’s usually playing spaghetti westerns and a juke box full of old country tunes and rare soul music. They’ve got beer, liquor, espresso, Italian food (not that I’ve ever went in there to eat) and you can smoke. It’s cash only though, so bring those greenbacks.
2). Painter- Steven Knudson: Steven is guy you’ve probably seen at Brown’s diner or in line at Trader Joe’s. He’ll tell you he’s an eggplant farmer or a luthier or any number of lies that may be true. One thing that is certain, is he’ll probably never mention his paintings or his music. His spooky, cartoonish sketches and oil studies portray a desolate and strange America, a solemn landscape of dirt and beauty. All you have to do is look at “Woman with banjo in an idyllic scene with bucolic pig and pastoral bird” (yes, that’s the title of one of my favorite pieces of his) and you’ll see a one a kind world made of earth and smoke.
3). Record Store- Fond Object: Obviously, a lot of people in town may know about Fond Object, but it is still relatively new and off the beaten path from the Five Points area in East Nashville. Nestled in the heart of Riverside Village, the folks at Fond Object have put together one of the best shared spaces in East Nashville. Founded by The Ettes, (Jem Cohen, Poni Silver, Coco Hames) and friends Jeffery Pettit & Rachel Briggs, this is one of the most unique collectives ever to come to our neighborhood. With a large variety of vinyl, CD’s, books, home interiors, custom clothing, and even an animal rescue/petting zoo, Fond Object is one our favorite local places to shop and just hang out. We’ve frequented the outdoor area to watch avant guard films (or Breaking Bad) on the projector, listen to records and hear live music. We played there this past summer for Native Magazine’s launch party and it was one of the best parties of the season. There were local food vendors, cold drinks, a fashion show and even an adult water slide. As mentioned before, the space is also shared with Rachel Briggs, one of the most unique and organic graphic designers in Nashville. She offers custom art, design, print and logos- she did our album artwork for our UK release and it was phenomenal. If you’ve not already, go check out this place.
4). Thrift Store- Robertson Flea Market: Where can you get an oil painting of a flying hamburger, a Marty Robbins record, a pair of ropers, and a trucker hat that reads “put some lipstick on my dipstick” for under $20? There’s Navaho print couches, elk antlers, accordions, velvet Elvis portraits and a box full of unknown Nick Cage VHS tapes. I’m speaking of Robertson Flea Market of course. It’s one of those places you’re gonna have to dig around in, but it’s always worth it.
5). Photographer- Danielle Holbert: Danielle Holbert is a diamond in the rough when it comes to film photography. Of course, like any modern artist, she does some work through the digital medium, but for the most part, Danielle is a dedicated film photographer. She’s got an artistic eye, old school know how and soft spoken mannerisms that combine to develop some of the most stunning film photographs around.