What I understand most is the transcendental love created by seafaring expeditions, four years or three days spent inside a location’s sprawl. The first time I heard Humming House’s self-titled album, I connected easily with the lyrics and beats that pan geographical landscapes and their inevitable effects on human maturation. “Sweet Seattle, she was a love worth learning, but she became averting,” is sung in “Cold Chicago,” just before a quip about the inevitable descent of a Nashville resident into an innocent whiskey habit. And if ever I have heard a song that describes Baltimore with such psychological precision- a joint creative wasteland and convalescence home for those uncertain- it is the band’s whimsically-crafted Baltimore Boats. Located in our city, Humming House contains equal amounts of Irish-infused harmonies, notes of nostalgic Americana, and interwoven pop structures, creating a sound equally digestible and refreshing.
Below, is the meanderer’s guide to Nashville, Tennessee: Five experiences that allow the ambling spirit to settle in this city, to feel secure in calling it home.
By Humming House
We considered answering our five favorite things to keep us sane on tour. But, now that we’re back home, we decided to focus on our five favorite in-town experiences. And, since there are five of us, we each listed one.
1.) Justin – One of my favorite things to do in Nashville is to go for a long walk on a Fall day when the temperature is just right and the turning of the leaves are at their peak. My favorite destinations are the Shelby Bottoms walking bridge and Centennial Park. Saturday’s at Centennial Park require a loop around the Parthenon, lake Watauga, and a stop at Musicians Corner to hear some good friends perform.
2.) Leslie – As a graduate student at Vanderbilt, I quickly came to appreciate the advantages of working on a campus that doubles as a national arboretum. When I was stressed out in school I would walk around the campus with a fresh cup of JJs coffee and photograph the leaves changing or the flowers blooming, depending on the time of year, to decompress. I still go all the time even though I’m not in school, and now that I’m not worrying about exams and papers I can enjoy the campus without the stress association. Vanderbilt’s campus is a Nashville treasure hidden in plain sight – I highly recommend a stroll through it on a beautiful day!
3.) Joshua – If I’m not catching happy hour at Village Pub (beer), Rosepepper (tequila), or Pomodoro (wine), then I’m probably inviting friends from various circles over to the house. This usually entails lighting a dangerously large bonfire and grilling out with whatever local meats and veggies I’m currently geeking out about – most likely from a farmer’s market or PRB. Once enough moonshine gets passed around, I become jolly enough to offer out all my cigars… which then requires a prompt and delightful re-stocking from Uptown’s.
4.) Benjamin – There is no greater “no f*&cks given” storm that I have seen in Nashville than seeing rock and roll band Wooly Bully perform on a random Wednesday night down in the “smoky dungeons” of Melrose Billiards. Melrose is a fabled establishment on 8th Ave South that is known for its cheap(ish) beer, multitude of decently felted pool tables, and a lack of ventilation that will keep you reeking of cheap cigarette smoke for days. While I am terrible at pool and do not care for cigarettes, Wooly Bully draws me down into their hipster lair every time. The excellent musicianship of the rotating individuals in this old time rock and roll band is absolutely incredible… at least for the first twenty minutes, at which point the whiskey sets in, and the musicianship falls away into slurred lyrics and slurred guitarmonies. Put aside the networking, put aside the money, put aside the ambition. This is the energy on which Nashville will survive.
5.) Bobby – One of my favorite things to do in Nashville is to partake in the consumption of the delicacy known as “Nashville Hot Chicken.” This stuff is not for the faint of heart–it isn’t anything like getting regular old hot wings somewhere. It’s a cuisine that has earned its own name and style, because of it’s incredible heat and depth of flavor. Picture your grandma’s world-famous fried chicken but combine it with a complex, rich, volcanic flavor palette, and you basically have it. When I first went to a Nashville Hot Chicken joint they asked me whether I liked spicy–obviously I do. They go, “What heat level of wings do you typically get?”
I respond, “I dunno…extra hot.”
“I wouldn’t recommend going above Medium here, then.”
I was baffled, of course, and ever since have been on a mission to make a pilgrimage to all of the Nashville Hot Chicken spots and get the HOT chicken. And yes–it’s incredibly hot. But it’s SO GOOD. You can find me breakin a sweat at Pepperfire, Hattie-B’s, Bolton’s, Prince’s, or any of the other Nashville Hot Chicken Meccas in the area. Eat it and weep with me–for temporary pain and infinite joy.