A Reception for the Mentors and Apprentices of the Tennessee Folklife Arts Project

After the six months of mentoring under the Tennessee Folklife Arts Program, mentors and apprentices were invited to a reception at the Tennessee Arts Commission office in Nashville in order to highlight what they learned during the program. So Kesha Burton from Brownsville, R. L. Boyce, Sherena Boyce and Willie Hurt, who had all been involved in the project to reintroduce fife and drum music to West Tennessee, all headed out to Nashville for the reception. Although the weather was stormy and wet in Memphis, we found that Nashville was dry and sunny, with the downtown area extremely busy with various events and festivals. In addition to the fife and drum project, other apprentices learned basket-making, chair-making, guitar-making, Panamanian dress making, buckdancing, Black gospel quartet performance, and square-dance calling. Although the space for the reception was somewhat cramped, everyone had a good time. Afterwards, I took Kesha Burton to Shipwreck Cove out at Percy Priest Reservoir to celebrate. After a stop for gelato at Legacy Gelato, and a run by Trader Joe’s to pick up some items that we cannot get in Memphis, we headed back to Brownsville, and then I to Memphis.

Nashville: The Capital of Hot Chicken

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Nashville’s “hot chicken” is truly hot. At most restaurants, even the mild is just about the hottest thing you’ve ever eaten. And recently a number of new hot chicken places have begun springing up, including the somewhat upscale Hattie B’s chain. Hattie B’s is relatively new, and represents a slightly different take on the Nashville hot chicken tradition. For one thing, the restaurant has the ambiance of a sports bar, in contrast to the fast-food atmosphere that characterizes many of the other hot chicken spots. There is a full beer menu,an inviting outdoor deck, and a surprising number of choices for side orders. Although the line can stretch out the door, service is relatively quick, since you order before seating yourself. And the chicken is definitely worth the wait. Spice levels range from “Southern” (no heat at all) to “Shut The Cluck Up” which is defined as a “burn notice”, with three degrees in between. I tried the Mild, which was as spicy as any chicken I have had, but quite good. Altogether, Hattie B’s offers great Nashville hot chicken in a fast casual environment at a reasonable price.

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
5209 Charlotte Av
Nashville, TN 37209
(615) 712-7137

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
112 19th Avenue S
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 678-4794

Cool Runnings with Chinese Connection Dub Embassy and Roots Of A Rebellion at the Hi-Tone

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Memphis has almsot no Caribbean expatriate community at all, and as a result, little Caribbean music either. What Jamaican music comes through the city is largely due to the efforts of one band, the Chinese Connection Dub Embassy, who not only perform and promote their own music around Memphis, but who also arrange for out of town ska and reggae bands to come to the city and perform, such as Nashville’s Roots Of A Rebellion, who opened up for them at the Hi-Tone in Midtown in early June. CCDE has developed something of a cult following in the Memphis area, and their authentic approach to dub and reggae is refreshing in an era where computerized digital styles are all the rage.

Getting Ready for @HAYSTAKMAK and @JellyRoll615 “Business As Usual” Album Out Tomorrow

The long-awaited new collaboration between Nashville rap veterans Haystak and Jelly Roll drops tomorrow. Entitled Business As Usual, it is coming out on Haystak Entertainment and being distributed by Memphis-based Select-O-Hits Music Distribution. To get you ready for it,  in addition to the authorized single leak above, here are some videos of Jelly Roll discussing the new album and of behind the scenes footage.

Bethune-Cookman and Tennessee State at the John Merritt Classic in Nashville

On the Sunday before Labor Day, I decided to drive up to Nashville to see Bethune-Cookman University take on Tennessee State in the annual John Merritt Classic at LP Field. The game is held each year in honor of John Merritt, who for many years was the head football coach at Tennessee A & I/Tennessee State. The weather was perfect for a football game, and the battle between the two bands was definitely worth the drive. I was amazed at Bethune-Cookman’s snare line, all of whom had tambourines and cowbells attached to their snare drums, which was unusual. FOr some reason, the traditional “Fifth Quarter” battle between the bands was limited to 10 minutes per band. After the game, I had intended to go to M. L. Rose Burgers, but although they stay open until 2 AM, I learned that they don’t sell burgers after 1 AM, so I ended up having to go to The Slider House in Midtown Nashville near the Vanderbilt campus, since they stay open until 3 AM every night. Then, after stopping by Cafe Coco for a latte, I hit the road back to Memphis.

Trying the New M. L. Rose (@_mlrose) Craft Beer and Burgers in West Nashville

Frankly, the last time I was in Nashville, I considered eating at M. L. Rose, and then when I saw how far out it was on Franklin Pike, I changed my mind and ate at Burger Up instead. So on my snowy Friday trip to Charlotte for the CIAA tournament weekend, I was thrilled to discover that there is now an M. L. Rose West location on Charlotte Avenue, and that it’s right off of Interstate 40. Nothing could be more convenient. And I was impressed with M. L. Rose. The decor is unusual and attractive, with a number of ordinary found objects like hubcaps arranged artistically. The food menu is fairly large, but of course burgers are the stars of the show, and they possess true star quality. My cheese and bacon burger was perfectly cooked to order, and amazingly tasty, accompanied by waffle fries. I’m not a beer drinker, so I can’t speak to the quality of the beer, but there’s a whole beer menu, and many different brands are offered. At noon on a Friday, the place was packed to the rafters, and deservedly so, as M. L. Rose makes a wonderful shelter from an icy, rainy afternoon. Visit them at either of their two locations in Nashville, or at http://ml-rose.com/.