This year was a hot dumpster fire, right?! 2016 as a whole was not great for a lot of people I know – and honestly, it wasn’t my best year ever. But, there were a few things worth noting, and in the interest of my ongoing quest to stay positive, here are the ten best things that happened to me this year.
Hey New York City, I Love It When You Turn On Your Lights: I had a lot of really great trips and experiences this year, but the one that was the best was the trip I took to New York a few weeks ago. I went with a few of my best friends and made a ton more friends – oh, yeah, and saw my favorite band play four nights in a row. As a bonus, I also got to see Laura Stevenson for the first time, as well as the precursor band for The Hold Steady, Lifter Puller. (And got a Lifter Puller shirt, which I barely want to take off.) I also ate a lot of pizza, had amazing conversations with an author I have long loved who is also a fan of the band, and just being around people who love the band as much as I do (after almost 10 years of having no one to talk to about them) was pretty cool.
When I moved to Nashville two years ago, I thought I had found the place I was going to land and set up my adult life. I had friends around me, all the music I could ever want, and a good job. The first month was pretty tumultuous and saw me clamoring to move back to Virginia, to try to take it all back, but I made the best of it and soldiered on for a few more rough months, before finally landing a dream job and spending a lot of time on the go, enjoying the best of Music City.
I think I really did take advantage of it – there’s not a lot I felt I missed out on (except for sleep.) The second year, things started to become a bit more clear, though – like maybe Nashville wasn’t the last stop on my journey after all. The pace, the number of hours I had to work in order to afford an apartment I had no business moving to in the first place, and the desire to see friends whose schedules never meshed (because they were also running around the city to afford a life that is becoming unsustainable for the artists and young professionals that have given Nashville its soul) – I started to second guess the plan. The last straw came on a visit home when I saw how exhausted my mom was – as a third shift nursing home nurse, she was also caring for my grandparents alone, running them to doctors appointments during the daytime and trying to sleep on their couch between helping with making meals or getting my grandma to the bathroom. It felt irresponsible to not help out, since I don’t have a job that ties me down to a particular location.
For a few years, Dani and I had been talking about living together and last fall, it got super serious, finally deciding to move to Chicago when she finished her degree. We’ve both lived away from home for a few years, and we desperately miss the midwestern culture we’ve abandoned, so it’s time to come closer to home. I decided that once my Nashville lease was up, it was time to move home for a few months to help out where I can, and start saving and planning for moving to Chicago.
I love Nashville, and it will always have a piece of my heart. I learned a lot, I changed a lot, and I’m grateful for the time I spent there. This is my goodbye to the beautiful Nashville skyline – I’ll see you later, Batman.
I’ve lived in Nashville, Tennessee for about two years now, so I like to think I know what the “must see” and “must eat” places are. Plus, it’s still really fun to live like a tourist occasionally! If you’re just passing through for the day, I share a list of places you cannot miss when in the gorgeous and lush Music City.
It’s a haul out of town, to be sure, but the biscuits are worth it. Start your day here with breakfast, and take Natchez Trace out of town to enjoy some nice scenery on the windy drive down to Franklin. Do some shopping here as well—many of the old motel buildings have been turned into shops, from items from local artists, to biscuit mix and jam you can take home to fill those cravings you’re sure to have!
Nashvillians have a different definition of “hiking” than the rest of the world—here, hiking tends to refer to heading out into nature with your running shoes and taking a nice long stroll. The Greenways for Nashville project has installed a lot of great trails throughout the city, but my favorite is south of Nashville at Radnor Lake. It’s a quick hour-long loop, and since I’m from the Michigan, it’s nice to be near the water in this land-locked state.
Part bar, part social club, part restaurant, and part living room, this is one of my favorite spots in Nashville, and perfect for any time of day. Head in early morning to join other freelancers at the community table with coffee from local roastery Crema and brunch, a pool-side cocktail in the afternoon, or stop by at night for cocktails and a round of bowling.
Broadway is really best done in the afternoon. Fewer people on the streets means cheap drinks, and the musicians are just as good as those playing for the rowdy crowds at night. Paradise Park has long been my favorite bar on the strip with its trailer park theme (and great carnival-inspired snacks, should you find yourself with the munchies) and Tootsie’s can’t be missed either. Stop by Robert’s Western World next door as well—their Brazilbilly house band is one of the best!
Even if you’re in town for just one day, you’ll have your pick of hundreds of concerts to choose from that evening, and what better to do in Music City? The brand new Ascend Amphitheater is set right downtown against the river backdrop for a nice outdoor show, or check out one of the smaller venues in town. City Winery features table seating and a large wine list (perfect for me, since I long ago lost the desire to stand through 2-3 hour shows,) or head across the river to the Basement East, featuring the best local and national artists around. Or take a look at Cause A Scene, which throws “secret” shows—you buy a ticket to see an artist and on the day of the show, they send you the location. I actually saw my favorite artist at a Cause a Scene show in a barbershop, of all places!
Do you live in Nashville or visit often? What are some of your favorite sights in and around the city? Let me know in the comments below! To plan your trip to Nashville, TN this summer, check out Visit Music City!
Where do these summers go?! For the second year in a row, the summer was jam packed in the best way, but it absolutely flew by. If I wasn’t spending afternoons by the pool, I was jetsetting somewhere every week, it seemed – it’s pretty amazing to finally be living the kind of life I really want. Here’s a quick recap of the summer:
I started the summer off with two trips to the water – first to see Dani in Boston, then down to the Florida beach with my family. There is nothing I love more than being on the beach and cooking in the sun with the people I love most, so this was a really great way to kick the year off (and a good indicator of exactly how busy I would end up being)!
Even though I made it a point not to travel out of state in July, I still managed to pack the month full. Hands down, Outlaw Roadshow was one of the best days of music I’ve ever been lucky to see, and the surprise Counting Crows set to close out the night didn’t hurt matters any. I went hiking to some waterfalls with some of my best friends to celebrate my Nashversary, and spent many afternoons nappingby various poolsthroughout the city.
In early August, I finally moved to Nashville proper after a year of commuting from the burbs, and honestly, I couldn’t be happier with the new place (no matter how stressful and time consuming moving ended up being.) Before I set off on another big trip, I finally got to see one of my bucket list bands when I saw Gin Blossoms play two shows in one night. No one will ever be able to tell me any differently – they are one of my favorite bands of all time, and I really had a great night. CF and Sixx came with me, and it was pretty nice to not be there alone!
The next morning, I flew to Montreal for my company retreat. Even though I have “known” my co-workers for almost a year, it was nice to meet in person for real, do some heavy bonding, and exchange treats with friends!
September has been a really great way to end the summer. Over Labor Day, some friends from Charlottesville came to visit, and I had friends from college staying with me as well. It was a busy weekend for sure, but super fun to get out and sing some karaoke again (and have a band full of boys to buy me drinks all weekend :))
After that, I made a last-minute trip back home to the mitten. My best friend had her baby, and I was just homesick for water. Turns out the 10 hour drive isn’t so bad, especially when the trip back is broken up with visits to wineries and dinners with Sixx!
Last week saw what I consider the most wonderful time of the year – Americanafest in Nashville! A full week of my favorite kinds of music, plus panels and meetings with some of the smartest and most talented folks in the industry. A co-worker came into town for the event, and we exhibited during the conference and at night, I ran from venue to venue checking out showcases and discovering new loves. (I managed to make it to seven Nashville venues in one evening, which felt like a world record.)
In the middle of all that craziness, because I wasn’t getting enough music or activity – I flew to Denver to see Counting Crows for the third time this summer at Red Rocks. It was really otherwordly – Red Rocks is like nothing else, and I can’t recommend going there enough.
Pairing Americanafest with Red Rocks and a comedy show at Zanies in Nashville on Friday night, I ended up seeing shows at ten different venues in 2 states within 48 hours. That is definitely some kind of record.
I have one more trip to Raleigh next week, then off to Cincinnati in mid-October, but other than that and Thanksgiving, my travel looks to be done for the year. So, yeah! It’s been a really great summer. I am so lucky to be able to get to do these amazing things and hang out with such great people. If only this summer heat could last forever, I’d be all set…
Wow. After June, I definitely thought my summer was going to take a lull – no trips planned for July, just focusing on packing and moving. Funny how things always seem to pop up! Let’s take a look at this awesome month:
I celebrated the holiday with my co-workers. After working a shift and managing to escape to reach a different party, I almost immediately turned back around. I’ve spent all of my Nashville holidays on the same patio there – but with a view like this, can you really blame me?
In a moment that could only happen in Nashville, I got to see one of my favorite writers play a free festival… capped by a middle-of-the-night (not so) secret Counting Crows performance. Outlaw Roadshow was truly one of the best days I’ve spent in Nashville, and I was just a beat away from booking a flight to catch the festival in New York in October… because who wouldn’t want to be an outlaw?
I went to the Nashville Zoo for the first time, and made friends with this little babe! She really got hold of my shoe thinking it looked like a tasty snack for her.
Then, as I recapped – we went waterfall hiking to celebrate my Nashversary. It was a super relaxing day down at Greeter Falls. As much as I love the city, it’s nice sometimes to escape and get back to my roots. Read more…