It’s interesting to me, the kinds of descriptions people come up with to describe my hometown, which for the record, is still a town to me. But I have had to remind myself that I still see Nashville through my 10-year-old self’s eyes, looking at fields through car windows and into glass jars that kept caught fireflies for a few hours. Nashville tastes like henbit and glass-bottled cokes purchased at a gas station whose clerk would slip a few chocolates into the brown paper bag, not like a farm-to-table restaurant or gourmet coffee. It still looks like my hometown whenever I drive down Granny White or when I see the old door next to the dragon mural in Hillsboro Village that once lead down to Jonathon’s Pizza. It is still a town to me, a town of habitually visited businesses and outdoor interactions and familiar tones. But I’m well-versed in the Nashville tongue, quite fluently and inherently, and even though many outsider perspectives often misuse the language of this town, there are some melodic responses that make me happy that others have found their individualized Nashville ritual and place.
I was curious to see how the songs shared by Zach Williams (guitar, lead vocals), Kanene Pipkin (mandolin, vocals) and Brian Elmquist (guitar, vocals) of The Lone Bellow, the now Brooklyn-based band, would translate into the Nashville air at Live On The Green this past September. They masked their home address with engaged vocals and gospel energy, making the crowd stomp just as much as they did. The three-piece collaborated so organically that it pervaded their audience, naturally drawing attention to their rooted sound that is somewhat a challenge to classify. It just makes sense. The Lone Bellow’s single, “Then Came the Morning,” which is also the title and initial track of their 2015 album, is a very singular example of just how familiar they can make the listener with their sound. Undeniably Southern in terms of theme and harmony, tracks like “Heaven Don’t Call Me Home,” with its rockabilly-infused call and response, and “Marietta,” with its waltz meter and steel-string resonance, consume you with contemporary nostalgia. Their music doesn’t make you miss what used to exist; it makes you remember that what you recall still does, if you look for it. Simple love, common interactions, travelled towns and sometimes, painful experiences. And as for me, it’s nice to have the reminder that my recollections still live in every bend of 12th South and the summertime chirps will repeat its chorus, even if all the changes keep happening. Some things will always be reliable, and The Lone Bellow’s music and newest album is no different.
If you are one of the lucky ones, you’ll be enjoying The Lone Bellow at their sold-out show at Exit/In tonight. But they’ll be back soon enough, and in the meantime, enjoy Kanene Pipkin’s suggestions on how she likes to spend a few hours in town.
Nashville Five, by Kanene Pipkin of The Lone Bellow
Ah, Nashville, you vile temptress, luring New Yorkers away from our tiny apartments with your sirens song of affordable housing, complete with outdoor space. We’ve lost several of our number to your charms, but no worries, it makes time spent there all the sweeter. I relish any chance to spend a day in Nashville, always praying that a tour stop there will leave room for enjoying all she has to offer. In those sweet instances of free time, here are my top five ways to spend 24 hours in Nashville:
- A morning run with my brother through Shelby Park.
My brother Mike moved to East Nashville about eight years ago, and it will forever be his city in my mind. One of the greatest joys of touring is getting to spend time with the people you love the most and see the least, and Mike and his wife Kelly and their three girls are at the top of that list for me. A day in Nashville is best started with a cup of coffee at their house, then a morning run around Shelby Park. It’s a gorgeous place, and I love seeing how the park is continually going through improvements and renovations.
- Coffee at Crema
I don’t know how you do it, Crema. You are the ultimate coffee shop. Friendly staff, most delicious beverages, such pleasing aesthetics, and somehow I always see someone I know. Sorcery. Try a quad latte, feel slightly insane.
- Haircut at the Yellow House
This dreamy little spot is everything I want in a salon. It’s beautiful, you’ll get a great cut every time, and sometimes there are puppies. The owners Kris and Liz Whipple are wonderful people and they’ve created something special with the Yellow House. They also scooped up one of my favorite NYC stylists, so if you’re lucky enough to see Erin, tell her we miss her.
- All the food (specifically Mas Tacos Por Favor, Barista Parlor, Two Ten Jack, Silly Goose and/or Jeni’s)
Is it cheating to list this many places? Well, sue me because I can’t choose. I love every taco I’ve had at Mas Tacos, and their juices are the most refreshing. Also I have fond memories of taking my brother there right after he had LASIK eye surgery and was looking pretty fly in his eye mask. I love shamelessly devouring a Barista Parlor biscuit with gusto while hearing my bandmates ask if they can get their coffee reheated in a microwave. Silly Goose and Two Ten Jack are my ultimate dinner spots, and one time I told Ricky Skaggs he was very important to me while we were both enjoying delicious ice creams at Jeni’s. Win win all around.
- A show, any show.
Maybe it’s the Ryman, maybe it’s the Basement. It might be our own show, or maybe I’m blessed with the fortune to catch Molly Parden and Matthew Perryman Jones swap songs with Thad Cockrell. It might just be my brother, my bandmates, and me singing songs on his porch well into the night, relishing what life is like with a backyard and not having to mind the neighbors above you. If you only have one day in Nashville, do it right, perk up your ears, and find the music.