January 25, 2015

KY : The Bourbon Trail – MAKER’S MARK

bourbon trail makers mark

I’m playing Ryan Adams to get me in a Kentucky mindset, and I have to share the somber cloud that hovers over my heart. It was recently announced Mandy Moore and Ryan Adams are getting a divorce. They were my favorite celebrity couple, even more than Brad and Angelina, and I just thought they could make it work. Now with 5 years of marriage being thrown into the celebrity wind, I have to take a moment for over-dramatic mournful silence.

***

Now back to the bourbon trail. While driving down the bourbon trail we saw large square buildings with windows, scattered across rolling hills. If a corporate building and a country barn had a baby, it would be these boxes.  They reminded me of something out of a horror movie, where all the zombie are kept or is storage for twisted experiments. Now the sky was cloudy and gray that day, and since I’m fairly morbid my imagination got a little carried away. In actuality, they are rack houses, where the bourbon goes to age and rest. So I guess technically it is storing an experiment – in awesome flavor!

bourbon resting house

We made the last Maker’s Mark tour and were the first to purchase our tickets. Letting us have that magical alone time the early bird gets to savor. The waiting house is a real Disney style attraction, with talking picture reciting the history of Maker’s Mark and a replica kitchen showing how Margie Samuels, the wife of T. Williams Samuels came up with the signature Maker’s Mark bottle. Margie was a marketing master and designed the Maker Mark’s bottle inspired by the unique shapes of cognac bottles. She wanted Maker’s to be distinctively different from the other bourbons on the market. It was also her idea to have the distillery painted black, as she was tired of it always looking dirty.  See there is a naturally occurring fungus that grows around distilleries called, Baudoinia Compniacensis, and it turns trees and objects black. Margie was annoyed with fighting the fungus so she painted the buildings black with red trim, and her branded esthetics has lasted through the decades.  Oh yeah, the distillery you tour is the same one that produced the first bottle of Makers in the 1950’s, how cool is that!!!

Makers Mark Kitchen

Makers Mark Distillery

Of course, there have been upgrades, like the beautiful copper distillers. But the room which ferments the sour mash was totally vintage. We got to poke our finger into the brew, which looked like captain crunch and tasted like sweet watery white bread. We also got to take home our own Maker’s Mark label, made on the same printing press from their early days. These kinds of true to tradition touches gave the distillery real charm. Honestly, I’ve never been a big fan of Maker’s Mark. I enjoy rye bourbons, and I found out they don’t use any rye in their recipe. Just corn sour mash and red winter wheat. So the tasting was a little underwhelming to me, but still very enjoyable.

Makers Mark Distillers

makers mark sour mash

We found out there is an ambassador program you can join, where they mark a barrel of bourbon with your name on it, and in 7 years you can purchase ‘your’ bourbon. I was so excited about this program, I told Bowerbird that I would need to plan my ovaries around the ambassador program, because I wouldn’t want to be pregnant when our bourbon was ready. I also said this out loud, and one of the other gentlemen on the tour remarked it was the best statement he’s ever heard.  What can I say, I love bourbon.

The coolest thing, about bringing home a bottle of Maker’s Mark from the distillery, is that you can dip it in the hot wax yourself. This was our epic road trip across the country, so we had to experience a dipped bottle. I was nice and let Bowerbird be the dipper, and the second it was cooled and handed to us I tried to carve the date into the wax, but it was too solid. Unfortunately, there was too many liabilities when it came to carving the wax when it was still hot. I hid a few of my road trip postcards in the gift shop too, and was tweeted on the road a week later from a fella who found it in a feminist book. Getting tweets while on the road was so cool. I still wonder about the postcards floating out there.

dipping makers mark in red wax

It was a bummer we were unable to go to any additional distilleries. Bowerbird was really looking forward to Four Roses, but we both agreed Maker’s Mark was worth it. We had been told it was a must see distillery, and for not even liking Maker’s that much, I absolutely loved my experience there. The bourbon trail hands out these passports you can get stamped at all the distilleries, new life goal is to get it filled. Bulleit distillery, you’re next on my list.

cute couple at maker's mark

January 19, 2015

Littletopia at Bob Baker’s Marionette Theater

bob bakers marionette theater Saturday night I faced my irrational fear of puppets in order to be a part of one of the greatest art parties thus far in 2015. A gathering of the best artist and gallery owners in the post-contemporary low brow art movement (aka Littletopia at the LA Art Show), coordinated by Greg Escalante, we gathered at Bob Baker Marionette Theater. My invite came from Thinkspace Gallery of course, and at first I turned down the invite because I had another party to go to that night. Using my other RSVP as a nice way to get out of seeing marionettes. It’s not that I think marionettes are lame or not a good form of entertainment, I actually get physically uncomfortable in the presence of animated dolls. Andrew from Thinkspace told me I’d really be missing out and to attend my other party late, and being one that actively avoids FOMO – I made myself go. Bob Baker’s Marionette Theater is on the outskirts of Downtown LA and a stone’s throw away from Echo Park. It had a string of Christmas lights and a garland tree set up out front, still strong in the holiday spirit. Walking in, the ‘party room’ was already packed with gallery owners from Roq La Rue, Red Truck Gallery, Gauntlet, Spoke Art,  and Copro. There was a lot of familiar faces, and those I didn’t know. A few of the artists I recognized included; Natalia Fabia, Lola, Adam Wallacavage, Travis Louis, Brian Viveros, and Casey Weldon. There was a handful of other artist there to, who if they wore a sticker of their work instead of a ‘hello my name is…’ I’d know them too.  Oh yeah Chet Zar was there as well, and everyone was merrily enjoying Two Boots pizza. I might just sound like a total name dropper right now, and that’s ok cause it’s exactly what I’m doing. Saving the best for last, the most honored guest, in a burgundy velvet suit – Mark Ryden was in attendance. The show that was put on was Bob Baker’s Nutcracker. It started with rainbow marionettes, who’s eyes blinked and when they started dancing in a circle I was thoroughly creeped out. I sat safely in the second row, with people protecting me from puppet interaction. The marionettes played with the audience, and Clara the puppet even jumped on Mark Ryden. A queen of candies and cake happily sat upon the lap of Casey Wheldon. They weren’t all nightmare inducing, sparkly sugar plum fairies and pretty flowers who danced the waltz provided a break from my constant humming anxiety. It was a fantastic night to be a part of, and the old 1950’s record with the voices, narration, and music of the show provided another level of delight. When the ‘Tea’ portion of the Nutcracker came on, and the oriental puppets with their incredibly non-pc costumes danced the floor, complete with “ching chong” dialogue; its offensiveness and nostalgia for another time added to the shows unique flavor. rainbow marionettes I never thought I’d say I was happy to have gone to a marionette show, but I’m absolutely thrilled to have seen this performance. I have this philosophy that if you’re not uncomfortable you aren’t growing. Facing fears, and pushing your boundaries are not easy. Sure it might just be an irrational fear of dolls and puppets. But I was about to let my fear keep me from experiencing a night surrounded by such creative and artistic talent. I would have really let myself down. I’m just thankful to Andrew for not letting me say no, it’s another reminder to keep saying yes to life!

January 10, 2015

Dream Week in Review : I

collage

First official week of 2015 is over! People everywhere begrudgingly went back to work. Others wrote down their goals and jumped straight into resolution mode*. Inspirational quotes and fitness boards popped up all over pinterest. Don’t you just love pinterest? It’s the perfect place to create an idealized world using other people’s beautiful photography skills. Create your dream home, dream wardrobe, dream life with out spending a dime just some of your time. I personally pin at breakfast and thought this year I’d do posts covering my week, but using idealized imagery from Pinterest. Cause at heart I’m a curator, and this takes way less time then coordinating artists.

1) Gorgeous Jar Terrariums hang in front of the window of a beautiful loft space | This week I cleaned out 4 new candle containers. I love burning candles, but what is more satisfying is cleaning the glass jars to then use for organization around my home. One repurposed candle container is used to water fresh basil. Smaller candles jars, now house bobby pins and sample perfume bottles. I also cleaned out an empty honey jar, and now instead of having a junk drawer I have a junk jar. In 6 months if I don’t use anything in the junk jar, I’m emptying it out and tossing it.

2) Jean Seberg adorable pixie – the american actress who inspired french films. | I’ve buckled down and committed to studying french daily. For years I’ve said I’d love to know french, and for a while I played all my favorite films in french figuring I’d learn it through osmosis. That didn’t really work. But with duolingo, I practice in the morning and before bed. my accent is terrible, so I’m back to watching movies in french. Last night I watched 500 Days of Summer in French with English subtitles; the narrators voice isn’t nearly as whimsical in french. My pixie cut also needs a trim – desperately.

3) Illustration – unknown artists – girl sick with flowers. | I got a cold this week that peaked yesterday. Sadly working freelance and getting sick do NOT go hand in hand. When I’m sick I can’t focus. My thoughts are jumbled. Dayquil and black coffee are my saviors. So tomorrow I need to start/finish work that should have been done Friday, but my brain just wasn’t there. My only focus was getting up that love letter.

4) Freidasophie Jewelry - Ring | I’ve decided to be a ring girl this year. I love how rings look on other people, but have never worn them myself. I’ve been more of a necklace or earring person. But this year it changes. I bought a bunch of cheap rings from Icing after christmas and have worn them all week. I feel fancier when I type.

5) Black UnicornWish I knew who took this photo, it’s absolutely stunning. Editing the young adult book resumed this week. Officially half way through it now, fingers crossed it’s done by February. It’s not only magical, but this whole week the universe has been showing me I’m on the right path. Even if it doesn’t make sense, or seem real now – it will be.

*I’m one of those people

January 10, 2015

Love Letter to Thinkspace Gallery

thinkspace gallery

Thinkspace is celebrating their 10 year anniversary tomorrow, January 10, with the opening of ‘La Familia’ and I felt this was the perfect time to share my undying love for this gallery.  Here is my love letter with a personal backstory…

I had studied for 7 years to be a professional actress, and in the fall of 2007 I decided it wasn’t the path for me. This realization came when an ex-boyfriend of mine was signing up for art classes in college, and I was jealous of him because I had to sign up for another theater class. It was painful to accept that I didn’t want to be an actress. I graduated from High School early for acting, it was all I knew. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, except I loved art and writing.  I felt more comfortable at art openings, than I did at film festivals. So I got a gallery internship after not signing up for my regular acting class, and started working at 01 Gallery.

The first Thinkspace opening I ever went to was Sarah Joncas and Camilla d’Errico in January 2008. This was a month after I decided to no longer pursue acting. As I drove away from the show, staring at the illuminated painted install shining out from the front window, I told my friend, “that’s the kind of gallery I want to be a part of.” I started my internship with 01 Gallery the following week, and was with them for 7 months before I knew it was time to move on. It was a Thursday when I sent out my resume to galleries around Los Angeles looking for a new internship; Monkey King, Gallery 1988, CoproNason to name a few. When it came down to Thinkspace, my dream gallery, I decided to call them instead. I think a part of me figured getting rejected immediately from them, would be easier than the torture of waiting for an email response.

thinkspace window camilla d'errico

LC, one of the owners of Thinkspace, picked up the phone and I nervously asked if they were looking for interns. He said he was looking for an assistant and if I could come in that day. I agreed, and jumped in the shower to be a presentable human being. I remember it wasn’t a convenient time for me, but when your dream gallery ask you to come in, you don’t say no.  We chatted, and by the end of the conversation LC told me he was going on a tour for a month, but when he got back we’d get started. I quit my internship with 01 Gallery, and a month later returned to Thinkspace to get started as LC’s assistant. 2 years after being with Thinkspace, LC shared with me that he hadn’t officially hired me that fateful Thursday afternoon, but figured “hey this girl keeps showing up, and working hard…why continue the search.”  For a moment I was embarrassed by my brazen assumption I had been chosen to be an intern, but then that assumption secured me a position with my dream gallery.

thinkspace silverlake

Now 7 years later, I’m no longer a Thinkspace intern, but occasionally a gallery assistant and solid family member. The title ‘La Familia’ of Thinkspace’s 10 year anniversary is so on point, as this gallery really developed a community and family in the ten years it’s been around. I came in a little late, but over the last 7 years I see familiar faces and seen artist grow from small pieces in a group show to practically selling out an entire large room (looking at you Jacub Gagnon). This gallery has helped to shine a spotlight on emerging artist and foster an environment for them to flourish.  I’m not an artist, but at one point in time I was curating art shows and it’s solely due to the conversations I had at Thinkspace. Man I remember the day Audrey Kawasaki said I could do anything I put my mind to, I had the energy for it. I might have been buzzed on beer, but I swear she said it!

familiar faces

I love my blood family, but my art family has really shaped who I am today. I was raised to be incredibly cautious and rational. To not just look before I jump, but to inspect the ground and make sure I have the right permits. To consider what the tax situation is going to be like and will I need insurance. For me, growing up with that kind of pressure paralyzed me from doing anything. It was overwhelming to just think about possibly trying something new, and doing something on my own. LC taught me to just do it. He encouraged me to curate my first art show, along with the other owners Shawn and Andrew. They were incredibly supportive, and always gave me a blast in the Sour Harvest newsletter.  Every Thursday for 3 years, LC listened to my romantic woes while I packaged art, spackled holes, and leveled paintings.  He gave me advice on guys, while we searched for artist to invite to Cannibal Flower. I’d share an idea with him while eating lunch; expressing how I wanted to interview artist with silly questions like ‘what’s your spirit animal’, and he’d just say – well do it. That’s how My Favorite MAOI came to be, and although I’ve moved away from that blog, it taught me a lot as well.  Some of the artist I had interviewed or worked with in my early art shows are now represented by Thinkspace, like Glenn Arthur and Kevin Peterson. What can I say, I think I have a good eye!

glenn arthur 2009

Picture from the show Black Market Sugar I curated at The Lab in Costa Mesa

Thinkspace was the catalyst in my life to a happier, more confident, and fulfilling path. LC, Valentine, Shawn and Andrew will stand in my future wedding photos like the important family members they are. If a terrible Si-Fi movie of my life was to be written and the plot was to ruin my existence, all the villain would have had to do was distract LC and prevent him from picking up my call that Thursday afternoon. I was totally lost with no direction when I landed on Thinkspace’s doorstep, and they raised me up like a stray kitten. I’ve grown and changed so much within the last seven years, and I truly attribute a lot of that positive growth to the people at Thinkspace.

I commend you if your attention span actually read my entire love letter. I could write a 1000 more words about how amazing this gallery is and the ways it has influenced my life, but then I’d really just have my heart bleeding all over this post.  ‘La Familia’ opens tomorrow and it’s going to be crazy, and amazing!

I love my crazy amazing art family.

Xoxo, Bekka

family portrait

sorry David Cooley (he’s being covered by Valentine)

January 7, 2015

REAL TALK : BEING AUTHENTIC

holly golightly mask

Holly Golightly wore many masks, and this was one of her few authentic moments.

Last night my sister told me, in that loving way only big sisters can, that my writing has been boring. My blog posts have been dry and don’t have my voice. Well written with less grammatical errors than in the past, but it lacks that special sparkle that comes just from me. It’s missing my voice. And I took this harsh and honest criticism in the best way a twenty-something younger sister can, I hemmed and hawed, hung up the phone and ranted about my stupid sister to my boyfriend. Then as I laid in my bed, belly face down, those terrible words any person hates to utter slipped from my mouth, “She’s right.”

I’ve been feeling the pressure to get my stories from the road out of me and posted up. Partly because I fear the memories will become too distant, and partly because I want to write about the present. So I’m pumping out my posts.like a factory writer, instead of letting my heart guide me and build this blog organically. It’s like my brain signed a contract saying, “You must first finish all stories from the road trip before sharing any other adventure you experience!”  Approaching the road trip posts like a job, has in turn made these posts sound just like my ‘work personality’ and not my authentic self.

See my profession is social media management and blog/copy writing. And for the past three years I have been paid to write in the voice of companies, causing myself to lose my own artistic voice. I’ve definitely become a better overall writer, but my personality was dulled in the process. The main company I was with the last three years was soul crushing and toxic. While there I think I let them steal some of my sparkle. In the last three years, I had less energy, lost my sense of playfulness and ‘fun aunt’ title, and I didn’t write for myself (ie: blog and interview people) nearly as much as I had in the past. I love interviewing people and blogging, it’s seriously my strange addiction. Even the ‘boring’ posts I’ve been happy to upload, I do get a rush from the ‘publish’ button. But I’ve always wanted to do different kinds of posts and didn’t because of that strange agreement.

I know the key to successful blog/ online personality is to be authentic. I’d be lying to say I wouldn’t love to do partnerships and have this be my platform. But no one is going to read my posts, and want to be a part of my journey unless I’m authentic. I know I have this fantastic way of lying to myself. Many times I’ve convinced myself/ lied to myself into bad relationships. I construct the right answer, not the true answer. I construct an accurate post, not an authentic story. Plus why am I afraid of the memories becoming too distant, memories marinate and get better with time – not worse! Now I’m working freelance. I have 24 hours a day to manifest whatever I desire. A toxic free environment. I won’t feel drained when I come home because I wouldn’t have been exerting energy just to remain sane. I’m in the process of being my authentic self again. I am going to create a blog schedule/ calendar for myself; because it’s a way of dedicating more time to what makes me happy. But I’m going to stop writing my posts like I think they should sound, and instead write them like they want to sound.

Thank you for letting me be authentic. It’s not easy to be, but it’s a better way to be.

January 2, 2015

KY: The Bourbon Trail – Heaven Hill

Bourbon Trail Heaven Hill

Bowerbird and I have decided to stay off the booze and abstain from spirits in 2015*. Not because either of us has a drinking problem that has made our lives unmanageable. But because we both really dislike the lethargy and mild headaches that just one glass of alcohol can induce. 2015 is a big year for the both of us, and we want to be on top of our game. So it’s a good thing we hit the Bourbon Trail in 2014. We are both sad to be giving up whiskey and bourbon, our favorite spirits because of the aroma and smooth finish. Yet I don’t think we will be able to top the sampling of a $400 bottle of Evan Williams either.

The portion of the bourbon trail we visited was in Bardstown, which is only thirty minutes from Louisville, and where essentially most of the bourbon distilleries reside. Also the ‘trail’ is a paved highway, just for clarification. Welcoming us to the Bourbon trail was a sign propped on the front lawn of a lovely house that read, “Bourbon destroys lives.” Our first stop on the trail was Heaven Hill distilleries and Bourbon Heritage Center. It had great interactive displays of how Bourbon is made, with buttons and knobs that lit up and made noises. At the touch of a button one of the displays released the sharp and hypnotizing scent of bourbon. I felt like a kid in a science center. There was also a history of distilling bourbon; describing why corn is used as the mash, and the ways it was hidden from officers during prohibition. Bowerbird and I were mostly just interested in a tasting, and not the full 2 hour tour of the distillery, so with our souvenir tasting glasses we enjoyed an array of premium Heaven Hill bourbon.

Bourbon Heritage Center

Heaven Hill Bourbon Tasting

Sadly I can’t find my notes from the tasting, and apart from knowing that one of the bottles (seen below) is $400 and only sold in Japan, I don’t recall the specifics of the other bourbons. But they were delicious. First enjoying them neat and then with a dash of water. The water changing the flavor ever so subtly. I remember one of the bourbons evaporated on my tongue. Another one tasted sweeter after the drop of water, giving a more caramel and syrup quality to the bourbon. We were with three other couples during the tasting and it was fascinating hearing everyone’s take on the flavors.  It was so much fun to geek out with other bourbon and whiskey nerds.

Evan William Bourbon Trail

adding water to bourbon

By the time we left Heaven Hill we could only make one other distillery and another couple from the tasting highly recommended seeing Maker’s Mark. As you drive up onto the Maker’s Mark property, the buildings and trees are all black, windows trimmed with red. I didn’t know much about Maker’s Mark before my tour, but I’m so happy we went there.  The history and marketing behind Maker’s would make any feminist fan of branding drool – and that’s basically me.

I’m going to break this up into two stories as the tale of Maker’s Mark deserves a post of its own.

Tell me what’s your favorite bourbon? Have you been on the bourbon trail?

*Exceptions to our 2015 resolution includes vacations and one double date to a whiskey bar we couldn’t get to in 2014.

December 17, 2014

TN: DOLLYWOOD

Dollywood Road Trip

I adore Dolly Parton. She’s the queen of the south with a colorful personality that sparkles brighter than Christmas lights. A feminist with a sense of humor, she’s guided her career with brains and beauty. Did you know Elvis Presley wanted to sing one of her songs, but she turned him down? She would have loved to have the King sing a song she wrote, but he was also asking for full rights to the music. Dolly knew it was a bad business deal. My love for Dolly Parton made her amusement park, Dollywood, a MUST SEE destination on the dream road trip.

Its located in the smoky mountains not far from where Dolly grew up. She built the park because she wanted to give back to her community, and she figured what better way than to give them jobs. This savvy carries into the personalities of those that work there as well. When I asked the cashier of a food stand if they took credit cards, she gave me a sweet smile and said “Darling this is Dollywood, we are happy to take your money in any form”. I got such a kick out of that statement, I walked away with my delicious fried green tomatoes giggling.

Fried Green Tomatoes

The day we were driving to Dollywood it was pouring rain in Tennessee. A three hour drive from Nashville, traffic was not on our side, and we were in the car about four and half hours. When we finally pulled off the freeway, a burst of sunlight broke through the thick grey clouds. I joked to Bowerbird that it was over Dollywood, because Dolly can do anything, even part the clouds. Driving closer to the park, we were both stunned that my prediction was right, it was bright and sunny over Dollywood.

Because of traffic by the time we arrived we only had a few hours before it closed, but I wouldn’t let lack of time sour our experience. We decided we wouldn’t leave until we were kicked out. The park is “Backwoods Themed”. There are tongue and cheek representations of country people sprinkled around the park, from the signs to animatronic characters inside the rides. I swear there was a robotic fella in overalls holding a jug with X’s on it inside a fireman inspired attraction. But Dollywood also celebrates the charm and character of the smoky mountains, from the ‘County Fair’ to the artisans that still know how to loom and whittle wood.

dollywood signs

Artisans Looming

The number one question I’m asked is if there are Dolly Parton impersonators walking around, and I’m sad to report there are none. But just go to your local drag queen show and I’m sure you’ll find a few. However, there is a Dolly Parton museum, where you can meet a holographic projection of Dolly Parton. It’s an amazing building that houses many treasures of her childhood and countless sparkly costumes from over her career. You can even ask Dolly Parton questions on touch screen televisions. I was able to get Dolly Parton’s feelings on dieting and following my dreams. But what touched my heart the most was being able to see the coat of many colors.

Dollywood Chasing Rainbows

Dollywood Coat of Many Colors

Dollywood_Costume

We spent a majority of our limited time in the Dolly museum, but it was well worth it. As the park was closing and people walked toward the exit, we raced to the opposite end of the park for Wild Eagle. A ridiculously tall coaster that made you feel like you were soaring like an eagle. It had started to rain so we speed walked, and by the time we reached the ride and ran up the stairs through the line ropes and hopped on the ride, we were both out of breath. The restraint was tight and I tried to not get claustrophobic as I was already hyperventilating. We went up at a 90 degree angle, the click clicks of the gear below, and at a 210 feet drop we wooshed down at speed of 61 mph. The twist and turns of this coaster are the best, especially while whipping past bright red and orange leaves. Dollywood is seriously the most nature loving amusement park I’ve ever been to, it’s simply gorgeous. There is a creek running through it!

Dollywood_WildEagle

After Wild Eagle, we exited through the gift shop. Now as Christmas is around the corner I feel incredibly stupid for not picking up more souvenirs as gifts. I know lots of Dolly lovers, and one Dolly fan I am particularly regretful for not picking up a coffee cup or magnet or something. I purchased a keychain for myself and few postcards, but if only they had an online shop I’d get all my holiday shopping done in one place. Dollywood was as magical as I imagined it. And even though we didn’t get to spend all day there, everything fell into the right combination for a fun adventure.

Dollywood_Holigram

Thanks for reading about my time at Dollywood! Comment below with your favorite Dolly Parton song.

December 3, 2014

TN: Little Bit More Nashville

Road Trip Nashville

 

We spent so much time in Tennessee, and even more time in Nashville. The following happened over the course of a few days, but I thought writing about it in this fashion would be the most efficient. Also easier on the ADD blog reader.  Promise, I’m working on getting my post shorter! Well here is my Nashville…

PRINCE’S HOT CHICKEN

The hottest chicken in the south, Prince’s Hot Chicken, will bring tears to your eyes, no doubt about it. On the outskirts of downtown Nashville, located in a strip mall with a clothing store and nail shop as it’s neighbor, Prince’s Hot Chicken is as much an experience as visiting classic landmarks. We found out about Prince’s through Mind of a Chef, yes Sean Brock visited Prince’s Hot Chicken and recounted the burning sensation on film.

Filled with families and people who were picking up dinner before headed home, Bowerbird and I had to wait for a table to open up like sharks circling a boat. Fortunately the food isn’t served quickly, so we were able to get seats before the chicken was ready. I couldn’t imagine having tried to eat it standing up. It’s served up so hot it burns your fingertips as well as your tongue. We ordered the ‘hot’ chicken, and were told by a regular the two of us were crazy and would be feeling it in the morning. Sensory overload: our immune systems kicked into high gear to fight off the invasion of flavor, eyes filled with tears and noses began to run. Sharing a tiny side of potato salad, we nibbled on it trying to stretch the only way to give our tongues some relief.

For an hour afterwards we our lips were numb.

Prince's Hot Chicken Nashville TN

GROOVE RECORD STORE

After dinner we drove around Nashville until we could head out to the home of our host that night in Hendersonville. Gazing out the window I spotted Groove Record store, a house on the corner of a quaint street with an illuminated sign on the lawn. I love just coming across cool places, versus having it programed into the gps. It makes the discovery that more special. It was 5 minutes to closing, making a joke about being the assholes who are coming in right before the doors are locked, the clerk was friendly and assured us he had enough cataloging to do, and that we were fine. The walls are covered in local artist and music posters. Christmas lights strung beside an in-store stage. The selection of new and used music was phenomenal, and since we didn’t I bring many CD’s for the road trip we picked up Deerhoof and HTRK (pronounced Hate Rock). We even spotted the cd of a fellow label mate, ERRAS. We didn’t stay too long, but it was a great little find to shape our time in Nashville.

Groove Record Store Nashville TN

 

vintage dolly parton

THE HOUSE OF CASH

Thirty minutes outside Nashville, Hendersonville was where Johnny Cash and June Carter stayed until till their passing. It’s also where the Father of Bowerbird’s friend lived who graciously offered to host us for a night. I will refer to him as Mr. Radio because of his amazing voice.  Mr. Radio lived just down the street from the original Johnny Cash museum, The House of Cash, before it was moved to Downtown Nashville. Now a real estate office and dental practice, the buildings were originally an old train depot where June Carter had a little antique store along with where the museum was located. Being so close to more Johnny Cash history tingled the fan girl in me, but my mouth dropped when Mr. Radio offered to drive us up to Johnny Cash’s old home. It was the middle of night and unfortunately no moon, but he drove us along the fence as we peered from the car to see the faint outline of Cash’s home (which had burned down in 2007). Being so close to where this legend had lived gave me chills. As we drove away two fawns were walking on the road and ran into a neighboring yard.

Sign from House of Cash Johnny Cash

 

**The sign from House of Cash is now housed at the new Johnny Cash Museum in Downtown Nashville**

GRAND OL’ OPRY

When I purchased tickets to the Grand Ol’ Opry’s 89th birthday show, with no musical act yet listed, I was making a commitment to the dream. Seven months in advance, the tickets were will-call only and non-refundable. I had to be in Tennessee by October 11, and that’s exactly what I did. The act ended up being Craig Morgan. I’d never even heard his music before, but it was an amazing show. A down to earth musician, former military man, his songs were heart felt stories. Good country music is a story to a melody. He even made me cry, but then again country music always makes me cry. As it was the birthday celebration radio stations, activity tents, and food vendors were set up outside the auditorium. I purchased myself some rainbow kettle corn that tasted like fruity pebbles. The Grand Ol’Opry is located in a shopping center, the Opry Outlets. for me the shops took away from the magic of “The Grand Ol’ Opry”. I’m glad we took a tour at the Ryman. Next time we are in Nashville, I’m buying tickets to a Ryman show, even better I’ll make sure to get tickets to The Grand Ol’ Opry at the Ryman.

Grand Ol Opry Birthday Show

 

Couple ‘Selfie’ After the Show 

Dolly Parton Pumpkin

They had a fantastic Jack-O-Lantern display of Country Music Stars

Rainbow Popcorn and Grand Ol' Opry

My Popcorn and Dolly 

 I missed going to the Blue Bird and a dive bar in an Airstream trailer, but it just gives us a reason to return.

Have you ever been to Nashville?

p.s. Notice all the Dolly Parton pics I snapped? Well next post will be all about Dollywood!

November 26, 2014

Live Music Addict : Soko, Lucero & Kurt Vile

live music review soko lucero and kurt vile

I’ve spoiled myself with live music these past two weeks. I had purchased tickets to Lucero and Kurt Vile back in September, but when I saw the listing for Soko’s Bootleg show on Tumblr, I immediately purchased tickets.

Soko was a mixture of poetry and punk. Her energy infectious and sassy attitude charming. Razing the sound guy up in the rafters of the venue, her arms wide open with a request to turn up the volume. Childlike but stylistically mature, Soko’s vulnerability onstage is refreshing when female artists can at times look over rehearsed. At one point she invited ladies in the audience to jump on stage for , “I thought I was an Alien”.  As I hate to live with what-if’s, I maneuvered to the stage to dance. Once on stage, she started instructing girls to follow suite at take off their tops. Yes, Soko had freed the nipples. Considering the tech environment we live in, my bare chest was not something I wanted stored on a strangers cell phone, so I inched my way towards bailing from the stage. But fortunately while still onstage, Soko began the song and a handful of girls remained to dance with our tops on. This was a smaller group than those with their tops off, but us squares stuck together.  Although this was a unique aspect of her show, I don’t want it to be a defining moment of the night. It only illustrates the energy and influence Soko has on her fans, creating an intimate environment like everyone is a dear friend and these are some songs she just wrote taken from her diary. Making confessions in her French accent to the audience of who songs may be about, or forgetting the words, as her own emotional memories are brought to the surface through her lyrics and fans feed the singer her next verse.  Before running to the car, Soko was standing outside, and gently interrupting her conversation I told her I thought she was beautiful and authentic, because there are no two better words to describe this musical artist.

Fast forward four days and I’m in Echo Park ready to be transported back to Memphis while listening to Lucero. Anxious and on a mission to tell the members of Lucero about meeting Dave Cousar, I mustered the courage to approach guitarist Brian Venable and piano/accordion player Rick Steff. They were both incredibly kind, and Brian took note of my Muscle Shoals t-shirt. I had to show my southern pride! This was my sixth time seeing Lucero, but Bowerbird’s first. Every show I’ll inch myself as close to the stage as possible and swoon, hanging onto every word Ben Nichols sings.  This show was no exception. Lucero was the only band that played that night, starting the show with slower songs and then playing sad songs with a bit more electricity in the second half. It’s quite an accomplishment when not only does a band have enough strong material to fill 3 hours, but the fans watching love and can sing-a-long to every second of it. Far from a self-indulgent performance, a Lucero show makes you feel like you’re at someone’s backyard house party. Fans sent shots to the stage for Ben and the band to drink. Whiskey shot after whiskey shot, Ben was forced to admit he had to do a few songs before the liquor really kicked in. It’s more fun to be at a Lucero show then to ever read about one, so next time they are in your city go! They practically tour 300 days out of the year. Also don’t ever request Darby’s Song – there is a very strong reason not to, and you can click this link to find out why.

Finally I finished my musical fortnight with Kurt Vile. I had seen him at Coachella a few years ago.  Sitting on the plush polo field, the sun was setting and I listened to “In my Baby’s Arms” thinking of how much I wished Bowerbird was there to watch Kurt Vile with me. I was at Coachella working, and he was back in Los Angeles. Since that Coachella set, seeing Kurt Vile with my man has been on my musical bucket list. This time together we got to see him perform at an equally impressive but incredibly more intimate venue, the First Unitarian Church in Koreatown. I’ve seen Mark Kozelek and Iron & Wine at this venue and it’s by far one of my favorites in LA, except for that fact it puts me to sleep. The comfortable seats and amazing acoustics of slow and sentimental songs lulls me to sleep. My heavy head springing up towards the end of songs, and my one squinty eye revolting against the ultimate micro-nap. This by no means is a reflection of the actual performers, only that I really am an 80 year old woman trapped inside a 20 something body; and that it doesn’t help that these artist are on my Siesta Pandora station.

Back to Kurt Vile, he is a humble musician who lets his music speak for him. I imagine him as the rocker nerd in High School, with long hair and wearing his sister’s jeans, scribbling songs and chords in his chemistry notebook. He performs like it’s just him and the band on stage, dudes (and the one female drummer during the encore) jamming out for fun and we’re just lucky enough to witness it. Although he has grown to be a household name among the Pitchfork devotees, there is no ego on stage. Changing guitars between each song Kurt Vile approaches his microphone and adjust his gear like an eager teenager playing his first big show. The songs weren’t flawless, but they also weren’t coming out of a pre-recorded track either. The whole point of a live show is to experience the music you enjoy streaming or playing on vinyl in a new way, not to hear exactly what was perfectly recorded and mixed. Aside from begging my mind to not be so tired, the Kurt Vile show was everything I had hoped for down to the hand holding with Bowerbird. 

Extremely proud of this photo of Kurt Vile.

Kurt Vile Live Show Red Bull Sound Select

November 15, 2014

ART + MUSIC : El Jaleo with Iron and Wine

I’ve been reading An Object of Beauty and this painting “El Jaleo” by John Singer Sargent (1882) is shown in the book. Immediately the image reminded my of the “Boy with a Coin” by Iron & Wine music video.  Now I will introduce this beautiful combination to my readers, enjoy.

El Jaleo John Singer Sargent  Painting

 

 

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