Places, Spaces and People
I’ve lived a lot of places, but Nashville is my favorite so far. I’m originally from the rainy corner of northwest Washington that you associate with either Kurt Cobain or vampires, depending on your age. I spent time in Crimea speaking Russian and eating pierogies, and commuted by bike to work in Portland, Oregon after finishing college. In case you’re wondering, Portland is even weirder than you think. I have deep family roots in Tennessee, and couldn’t resist the siren’s call of writing full time for IMA, so I packed up my rain boots, Russian dolls, and bike, and moved my family east. These are my places, spaces, and people here in town:
Coffee at Portland Brew
I never want to live anywhere other than 12South, mostly because of the coffee shops. I’ve been drinking coffee since I was way younger than I should have been, and Portland Brew feels like home. The bagel sandwiches are delicious, and named after streets I loved in Portland. Plus, it feels a little bit like a cave inside, which creates a magical environment for incredible productivity. I drink their Ethiopian blend, and usually have 3 refills.
Pho at Koi
I developed a serious pho addiction living in Portland. In a city where it rains 363 days a year and everyone rides their bike, it’s almost alway time for soup. There’s nothing more delicious than this Vietnamese specialty, with rice noodles, bean sprouts and thinly-sliced beef. We eat it three times a week, sometimes. I do believe that Koi has some of the best eating in town.
Music at The Basement
I don’t always go to live music. Oh wait, I guess I do. The Basement is my all-time favorite venue in town, mostly because it feels like you’ve literally walked down the stairs in your own house to find a wonderful indie band playing. I drink the raspberry Hefeweizen, and sit very close to the stage.
Saturdays at Centennial Park
My first impression of Nashville was that it was very, very green. Despite what Forbes says about us being Nowville and the fact we’re apparently gaining 40,000 new citizens each year, there’s an abundance of green, open spaces. It feels like a city that grew slowly and thoughtfully, and regardless of what the census says, we’re really a very small town. When someone told me before I moved here that there was a scale model of the Parthenon in Nashville, I almost didn’t believe them. I still think that it’s so strange and wonderful that I go and look at it almost every Saturday.
No matter which local bands I list, I’ll be leaving someone out. They say that only 30% of the music produced here in Nashville is country. All I know is that almost every band I’ve seen live is amazing. My theory is that competition is fierce and the culture is friendly, which leads to a lot of talented people who make outstanding music and improve continuously. Even karaoke sounds better in Nashville. Here are a few of my favorites:
Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes
Whatever you do, see this band live. They’re rock stars, no two ways about it. Front man and keyboardist Daniel Ellsworth can simultaneously play some pretty complex tunes while working a crowd, and the group’s joy in their music is apparent. I predict it’s going to be about 10 short minutes before they’re the next Lumineers.
The Lonely Biscuits
It’s no secret that I really, really love The Lonely Biscuits. This Belmont University band’s sound is an amazing blend of funk, soul, and a little reggae. Besides, their future is brighter than Nashville in August, and in a few years I’ll be the obnoxious hipster talking about how I listened to them in the beginning. Since the first time Jen and I saw them in concert, they’ve been in Forbes, MTV and on the stage at SXSW. Plus, they’re super nice and unnecessarily humble—they were thrilled when I wrote about their marketing recently!
The Civil Wars
I’ll admit that I’ve never seen these guys live, but I stream them on Spotify constantly. However, they’re well worth a mention because they’re basically inbound marketing heroes. They gave away their first EP for free, which helped them develop their current loyal following and incredible celebrity. If HubSpot hasn’t already named a conference room after them, they totally should.