Southern Festival of Books

What DJs Are Reading: Southern Festival of Books Edition

Southern Festival of Books is just around the corner, and we’re excited that we’ll be a part again this year! In celebration, we’ve polled our DJs about what they’re reading. Look below for all kinds of recs, ranging from musical to comic!

DJ: popGeezer

Show: The English Breakfast

What I’m Reading: Any DC Comic from Tom King or Brian Michael Bendis.

Still in the middle of Lincoln In the Bardo by George Sanders.

Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns documentary accompanying “Country Music” tome is waiting to move into the rotation.

But Flannery O’Connor’s The Complete Stories always stands at the ready for quick consumption at any time.


DJ: Chad Pelton

Show: Dustbin Days

What I’m Reading:

Karl Ove Knausgaard- My Struggle Book 6

I am one of the many that got entangled in the minutiae of the daily life of Knausgaard, as he takes us through the sometimes cringeworthy growing pains of his life. And being one that likes to finish what I start, here I am lugging the 1200 page final tome of the series on my vacation with me. Good for the 8 hour flights. 

Val Wilmer- As Serious As Your Life (Black Music and Free Jazz Revolution, 1957-1977):

Not only a great photographer, Val Wilmer is also an engaging storyteller, and this book is a great read for someone who, like me, is diving headlong into the world of free jazz with very little knowledge on the subject. My radio show focuses in the folk/country world, so it is refreshing to switch gears and hear about the achievements of the likes of Milford Graves, Albert Aylor, John Coltrane, and Cecil Taylor. 

Jesse Graves & William Wright – Specter Mountain (poems):

Jesse is an old pal from Knoxville, and his latest volume of poetry is a team effort with fellow poet William Wright. Together they have created a book-length poetry collaboration rooted in the hills and valleys of the southeastern mountains. Praised by Robert Morgan, and weighing in at 67 pages, it is a delight to see what two differing voices combined together in a single, lengthy poetry cycle can evoke.


DJ: Michael Roark   

Show: Slings & Arrows

What I’m Reading: You Can Say You Knew Me When by K. M. Soehnlein

This is the third book that I’ve read by Soehnlein. It’s the second he wrote of three. Together they make a kind of trilogy (though written out of order). He’s a gay author who deals with awakening sexuality in the late 1970s in suburban New Jersey and onward. This novel is what happens at the start of the new century in San Francisco, when it blew up with dot-coms and mass gentrification. It delves into homophobic self-destruction, pot smoking, and deep dark closets being opened by the death of a father. It’s about inheritance, financial and genetic. And one of the reasons I may be enjoying it is that it provides a grand tour of a San Francisco—a San Francisco at a crossroads, one that I visited several times during that period in the late 1990s and early twenty-first century.


DJ: LT

Show: Shout, Sister, Shout!

What I’m Reading: How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell, who seamlessly weaves a tapestry of interdisciplinary ideas into a cohesive book that encourages us to resist the attention economy without hiding from it. Pauline Oliveros’ theory of Deep Listening is explored alongside Buber’s I and Thou, Thomas Merton’s writings, birdwatching + bioregionalism, and more. 


DJ: Laura Powers

Show: Needles+Pins

What I’m Reading: The Children by David Halberstam

The Children is former Tennessean reporter David Halberstam’s account of the Nashville Student Movement in the late 50s and early 60s. The Nashville Student Movement was responsible for ending racial segregation at downtown lunch counters and led the famous Freedom Riders who challenged segregation on public buses in the Deep South. At a time when Nashville is changing so much I feel it’s important to know our history. And it’s inspiring to read about young people who saw wrongs that needed to be made right and were brave enough to make it happen.


DJ: Trevor

Show: Our Golden Tones

What I’m Reading: Nate Chinen’s Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century. Many wild and wonderful worlds are illuminated in this. It’s excitingly relevant. I’ve been hooked on its analysis of the various ways “traditional” and “free” jazz communities and practitioners have splintered in certain contexts, but also worked together in others. It’s as interesting of a cultural study as a musical one. It’s also like if Jacques Ranciere’s Aisthesis was a history of jazz. Wowee!!


DJ: DJ Karl

Show: Dizzy Spell

What I’m Reading: Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons by J R L Carter – A fascinating exploration of the life and fiery death of Thelemic magician and rocket scientist Marvel “Jack” Parsons.


DJ: Anne McCue

Show: Songs On The Wire

What I’m Reading: If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino. I’m re-reading this wonderful book after many years. Calvino has a limitless imagination and comes up with many ‘novels’ within this post-modern creation/novel. It is a love story for and about readers and reading.


DJ: Alexis Stevens

Show: Free Association

What I’m Reading: Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh. I loved My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Moshfegh, so I wanted to go back and read her earlier work. Her books are great for anyone going through Fleabag withdrawals. And she’s coming to the Southern Festival of Books! 


DJ: Sirena 

Show: Music for Grownups

What I’m Reading: The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Besser van der Kolk, M.D. This book outlines mind-body therapeutic practices being integrated into bio-medicine which I believe to be a promising approach to healthcare. Before that I read, Hearthmath Solutions by Doc Childre and Howard Martin. Both books support current research in neurofeedback methods to promote self-regulation as a means to address dis-ease. I just bought my book club selection for this month, Eva Luna: A Novel by Isabel Allende . I look forward to transitioning to some well written fiction!


DJ:Adam Ebb 

Show: Body to Body

What I’m Reading: Soft Fruit In The Sun written by Oliver Zarandi. It’s a collection of short stories that explore doomed familial, romantic and sexual relationships through the lens of “body horror.” It’s a great debut thats funny, disgusting, and very relatable.


Photo Credit: Humanities Tennessee on Flickr

Top Four Randy Newman Albums (Excluding “Good Old Boys”)

Hi, I’m Josh Halper! I’m a guitarist born and raised here in Music City. I’m one of two hosts of WXNA’s “Hot Fudge Tuesdays” which airs every Saturday, from 2 to 4 p.m. We are the self-proclaimed “Randy Boys” on the WXNA lineup, so as a statement of my love for Mr. Newman, I’ve decided to make a list of my favorite Randy albums.

4. “Darkmatter” – Randy’s 2017 album serves as a Cliff’s Notes for the types of work you might find when digging through the songwriter’s expansive career. Songs such as “The Great Debate”, “Putin”, and “It’s a Jungle Out There (V2)” represent the scathing critiques of both governmental and societal hypocrisy that we, as Randy fanatics, have come to anticipate with a nervous reluctance. These songs ride the line of hilarious and cringeworthy, satisfying the listener’s appetite by the third or fourth listen. The rest of the album contains delicious historical vignettes (“Brothers” & “Sonny Boy”), heart-wrenching narrative, and seemingly autobiographical poetry (“Lost Without You, “She Chose Me”, “On the Beach”, and “Wandering Boy”). This is with a solid collection of songs that any Randy lover can be beyond pleased with.

3. “Little Criminals” – In terms of production, this album is a launching point for Randy Newman’s middle era, when he sometimes used distorted electric guitars and synthesizers instead of strings. Bringing in the Eagles as his backing band bridged the gap between crooner Randy and rocker Randy, giving his discography a nice dip into rock’s evil depths. The songwriting is just as whimsical as before, but something about the way the pieces are tracked makes them feel less silly and fun, even though the subject matter is relatively consistent with the rest of his work. His high energy songs see these changes, but the ballads remain pure and simple, creating a wonderful balance.

2. “Sail Away” – I consider this album to be the sister to “Good Old Boys”, which is a crowd favorite. A solid chunk of the cuts (“Sail Away”, “He Gives Us All His Love”, “Old Man”, “Dayton Ohio”, and “Burn On”) feel like they would fit right in with the following release. The string motion is in the same style, the instrumentation is almost identical, and the subject matter is just as romantic and somber. Thematically, the lyrics are geographically broader, outlining both critique and praise of the U.S. and the world, rather than focusing just on the South. Though this makes for an interesting trip around the globe, “Good Old Boys” reigns supreme in my ears. Something about a concept album…

1. “Randy Newman/Live” – This is my favorite Randy Newman Record (yes, over “Good Old Boys”). The record, which was originally released as a treat for Reprise’s fan club, feels like the most intimate and spontaneous thing ever put on tape. The image of Mr. Newman performing in a tiny club by himself, taking requests from and joking with the audience, makes it the most charming album of all. Songs like “Tickle Me”, “Mama Told Me Not to Come”, and “Lover’s Prayer” that are totally absurd (and almost creepy) become as cute as a shaved lamb in the solo setting. The solo performances of some of his heavier songs (“I’ll Be Home”, “So Long Dad”, and ”Living Without You”) are undeniably brutal. You can hear the audience’s awestruck silence as Newman spills his guts in song after song. This romance is immediately tossed aside when he jumps gracefully from “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today” into “Lover’s Prayer” proving that he is an incomparable writer and performer who both recognizes the weight of his work and does not take himself too seriously. This is a combination that I have yet to see elsewhere.

Josh Halper(DJ Sweetbaby)
Hot Fudge Tuesdays
Sundays 2-4 pm

Around Town With Khalila, the WXNA Intern: Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore

This is another installment of our blog-series: Around Town with Khalila, the WXNA Intern. You can read parts one and two here and here.

In this week’s post, Khalila explores the Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore.


When Brother Yusef Harris opened Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore in 1986, he wanted to create a space where African Americans could develop positive healing, positive feelings, and connection to their own history and culture. Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore is not just for people of color, but anyone who searches for a safe space for healing from racism and gentrification.

The store is located on Jefferson Street, long a center of Black life and culture in Nashville. When you visit, you’ll likely be greeted by Executive Manager Deborah M. Stewart. As you walk through the store, you’ll find shelves full of children’s books with Black characters, giving children the ability to relate to characters and see themselves in these stories. Books on African American history, protest, and prophetic scholars fill the walls. Along with books, Akelbu-Lan Images offers beauty products meant specifically for black people, incense, healing soaps, and more.

To me, this is the most important bookshop in Nashville. It has stood strong amidst the changes in Nashville, and provides healing, knowledge, and a safe space for Black people. While talking to Deborah Stewart, she told me that people come to the store to heal, to talk, to vent, to cry, and to just be in a space that is meant for them. That is so powerful, and I can say truthfully that there is no other bookstore in Nashville that is so focused on Blackness.

Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore is located at 2721 Jefferson Street in Nashville.

 

Khalila Early-Zald
WXNA Intern

Photos by Khalila
Header image by caligula1995 on Flickr

Back to School Bangers by the WXNA Fam!

School has started and we’ve got the ideal soundtrack for you!
Whether it’s you, your children, or your nostalgia looking forward to sharpening those #2 pencils, we’ve curated a playlist just for the occasion!


Thirteen by Big Star

It perfectly captures and brings me back to that time and age and all the conflicting emotions and hormones.

Joe Wolfe-Mazeres, Double Shot with Joe and Sue


Sacré Charlemagne by France Gall’s

DJ Natasha, The French Connection


Punk Rock Girl AND Bitchin’ Camaro by The Dead Milkmen

For me, this is SO high school!

DJ Sirena, Music for Grownups


Sister, Do You Know My Name? by The White Stripes

Everyone knows The White Stripes’ “We Are Going to Be Friends” (which I believe can now be found in childrens’ book form): a sweet, schoolish song. But “Sister, Do You Know My Name?” is my pick from their catalog, and not just because of the word sister. It can be found simmering in the middle of the tracklisting on their second album, De Stijl (2000), which was a huge back-to-school album for me circa junior year of high school. It was one of the first vinyl records I bought and then recorded with a vinyl-recording software that came with my record player (all very early-2000s). I remember listening to the crackly, too-quiet mp3 of “Sister” on repeat while biking around my neighborhood in autumn, crunching dry leaves under my tires. Yes, it’s a bit silly, but so is going back-to-school when you’d rather be listening to records. 16-year-old DJ LT was all about this dreamy, autumnal blues and its simultaneous indebtedness/reverence to Blind Willie McTell, whom the record was dedicated to. 

Meg White’s drumming is usually simple yet relentless, but here we find it almost sleepy, behind itself, like a lounging cat batting at the rug on the verge of slumber. The slide guitar fills in the blanks and overflows, coloring outside the lines and warming up the atmosphere perfectly for some sweet, boyish lyrics about longing: 

 

I didn’t see you at summer school

But I saw you at the corner store

And I don’t want to break the rules

Cause I’ve broken them all before

But every time I see you

I wonder why

I don’t break a couple rules

So that you’ll notice me

 

DJ LT, Shout, Sister, Shout!


Schoolhouse Rock by Billy Harlan

Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, rockabilly!

Fuck School by The Replacements

A classic from the Great American Songbook!

Drugstore Rock & Roll by Janis Martin

And one from the Female Elvis her ownself!

 

Randy Fox, Randy’s Record Shop and Hipbilly Jamboree


I Need a Teacher by Hiss Golden Messenger

This is more generally pro-education (countering the Replacements? ha) and brand new from NC’s Hiss Golden Messenger, which is coming to Basement East in November. Big ups to all our educators gracing classrooms AND the airwaves each week!

DJ Celia, What Moves You


Late for School by Ponytail

This one is mostly included here for the title, as the song itself doesn’t have lyrics — unless you count the odd whoops, hollers and general sonic craziness. So, y’know, just like being late for school.

Rick Pecoraro, contributor


A Summer Song by Chad & Jeremy

DJ Alexis, Free Association


Waitin in School by Ricky Nelson

DJ Blackcircle, The Root


(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party) by the Beastie Boys

High school would not have been bearable without the parties . . . believe it or not we listened to the Beasties on our way to the Science Bowl at TTU with our super school science teacher!

DJ Leanne, X-Posure and Double X-Posure


Another School Day by Hollywood Brats

DJ Michael, The Scattershot


Sunday Morning by No Doubt

DJ Caro


What Did You Learn In School Today? by Tom Paxton

Tom Paxton’s “What Did You Learn In School Today?” is not the cheeriest of back-to-school bangers, but it’s a banger nonetheless. Its call-and-response folk form displays a conversation between a little boy in school and his parents, who ask in each verse: “What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?” The boy responds with all kinds of plaintive answers, delivered with a touch of self-awareness to make it clear that Tom has an opinion on the matters at hand. Here’s an example:

What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?

I learned that policemen are my friends

I learned that justice never ends

I learned that murderers die for their crimes

Even if we make a mistake sometimes

And that’s what I learned in school today

That’s what I learned in school

 

DJ LT, Shout, Sister, Shout!


Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana

Jason Waterfalls


Smokin’ in the Boys Room by Brownsville Station

Because it’s so punk!

DJ Houndog Hoover, Goin’ Down South


School’s Out for the Summer by Alice Cooper

Because I’d already be looking forward for this shit to be over.

DJ Ed, Eighties Schmeighties


 

A Scary Goblin

Watch Out for the Goblin!

A story of a stolen salad, a cursed Corolla and eventual redemption

Trudy called out from the back seat, “Turn the station!”

“The what?” her Mom, Dyann, said.

“The station. Turn the station. I wanna listen to something awesome. Something like WXNA!” said Trudy.

Dyann reached over to the console to turn the dial in hope of pleasing her daughter — anything to please her daughter — but when her fingers approached the dial there was nothing there to turn.

“That’s funny,” said Dyann. “Where did the dial go?”

“Mom! The station! I want to listen to WXNA!” Trudy wailed.

“I know, dear, but, um…the dial,” said Dyann.

“WXNA!” said Trudy.

Dyann looked down. The dial was missing. And also the radio. She didn’t understand what was happening. After all, something was playing. Some sort of music, or music-like substance filled the car. It was a bit oppressive. Certainly not free-wheeling. Definitely not freeform. It wasn’t the warm embrace of a dear friend that WXNA had so often provided. Instead it had the feel of a rusting robot, of automation.

“Why won’t you just change the channel?” shouted Trudy. “Whose idea was it to listen to this anyway?”

“I…I don’t know, dear,” said Dyann. “We typically listen to WXNA. Not this. Whatever this is. What…what is this anyway? It sounds like The Eagles, but also like Staind, and maybe Scott Joplin? It’s very odd. Frankly, I don’t like it.”

“Just turn the station, pleeeeeeeease! PLEASE!” said Trudy.

Dyann reached back to the console, keeping her eyes on the road. She was adamantly opposed to distracted driving. Her hands moved across the faux wood-grain wondering if maybe, perhaps, she had somehow misplaced the radio. Maybe it was where the A/C was supposed to go. Perhaps some young troublemakers had gotten into the car when she was parked at the salad shop and had moved around all of the gizmos. It had happened before, and was certain to happen again. But the radio was not where the A/C was. It wasn’t next to the nav system. It wasn’t in the glove box, or in a cup holder. The radio was gone. Not “missing” but gone, like it never existed. It was as if they were driving the E trimline instead of the midrange “LE” which they had definitely purchased 14 years prior when the car was brand new and still had that smell about it.

“Mom! The radio! C’mon, this is the worst day of my life!” said Trudy.

“It’s not the worst day of your life. Don’t be so dramatic,” said Dyann. But Dyann was not so sure herself. Is it possible the radio truly vanished, or maybe never even existed? Was this was the worst day of her life? Was she supposed to pretend like it was never there — that this was a radioless car? But where was that sound coming from? It was like a mix between “The Pina Colada Song” and The Muffs and, maybe, Beethoven. Something wasn’t right, so she pulled over to the shoulder. Cars whizzed past.

“I just want to listen to anything else besides this. Anything!” Trudy said.

“What if I sing you a song?” said Dyann.

“No! It’s has to be WXNA!” said Trudy.

“But I thought you said — ”

“It HAS to be WXNA, OK Mom? OK?”

Safely parked on the shoulder, Dyann was finally able to inspect her center console — to finally figure out where the radio went. The results were inconclusive. In fact, more was missing than just the radio. The front passenger seat was no longer there, for starters. Dyann was pretty sure the seat was in the car when she had gotten in, but to be fair, it wasn’t really something she paid particularly close attention to. For the most part the seat never really left the car, which is why its absence — in addition to the radio, and the odd music that seemed to be coming from nowhere — was all the more unsettling. Dyann turned to Trudy.

“Trudy, why didn’t you tell me the front seat was missing?”

“I thought you knew. I thought you took it out?”

“And the radio?” said Dyann.

“I just want to listen to WXNA. It’s my favorite station. I mean, just this morning I voted them Best Radio Station in Nashville in the Nashville Scene’s yearly Best of Nashville Readers Poll.”

“I’m sorry, what did you just say? Readers Poll?” asked Dyann.

“Yeah, the Best of Nashville Readers Poll.” said Trudy, looking at the pained look on her mother’s face.

Dyann turned around, put her head on the steering wheel and looked at the floor. “It was that damn goblin,” she said.

“What?” said Trudy.

“The goblin. At the time I thought nothing of it, but it has to be the goblin.”

“A goblin? What even is a goblin?” said Trudy.

“Y’know, a goblin. Little green guy. Big ears. Pointy fingers — runs around with a satchel of gold,” said Dyann.

“You mean a leprechaun?” said Trudy.

“Trudy. I’m a fifty-year-old woman. I know the difference between a goblin and a leprechaun.”

“Well, what is the diff—“

Dyann interrupted, “I was at that salad place, eating a salad. I had my laptop. I was actually on the Nashville Scene’s website voting in their Reader’s Poll. And that’s when he approached me — the goblin. He told me to vote for WXNA for Best Radio Station, or he would cast a spell on my Corolla and cause the radio and front-passenger seat to disappear. Then he stole my salad before I was done with it and ran out the door. I was so angry, I deliberately abstained from voting in the entire category. Welp, he must have done it. He made my radio and my front-passenger seat completely disappear.”

“Mom, that’s…that’s…a goblin?”

“Yup, it was a goblin. A goblin that cursed my Corolla for not voting for WXNA for Best Radio Station.” Dyann said.

“I think there’s only one thing to do,” said Trudy.

“Oh, what’s that?” said Dyann.

“You have to go back to that salad place and steal your salad back from the goblin and demand that he uncurse this Corolla.”

“What if I just went and voted for WXNA for Best Radio Station in the Nashville Scene’s yearly Best of Nashville Readers Poll?” said Dyann.

“But will that break the curse,” said Trudy.

“Does it matter?” said Dyann. “I just want to support that great station.”

“Excellent point, Mom.”

“Here, let’s get out and roll this car into a ravine,” said Dyann.

“You bet, Mom!”

Dyann and Trudy got out of the car, put it in neutral and safely pushed the car into a ravine, ridding themselves of the goblin’s curse. The strange sound of The Turtles mixed with Seven Mary Three and the soundtrack to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat faded as it rolled into the ravine. Then the two hitchhiked back to that salad place where Dyann fixed her voting for the Nashville Scene’s yearly Best of Nashville Readers Poll.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Don’t let the goblin get you! Vote now at BestOfNashville2019.com.)

* * * * *

Voting is now open for the Nashville Scene’s Best Of Nashville Readers Poll. Help us threepeat as Nashville’s Best Radio Station!

You can vote at BestOfNashville2019.com. Best Radio Station is under the Media & Politics section. You must vote in 25 categories for your ballot to count. You may leave your ballot and return again, but you must have it completed before Sept. 5. There is no “submit” button—once you click “vote” in each category, your vote is counted.

 

Rick Pecoraro
WXNA Contributor

Around Town with Khalila, the WXNA Intern: Bookstores

This is the second of a 2-part blog series: Around Town with Khalila, the WXNA Intern. You can read part one here.

In this week’s post, Khalila explores two of Nashville’s local bookshops and the way that they, like WXNA, create “people powered” community.


Who doesn’t love a good bookstore? My favorite bookstores are run by local Nashvillians who have a love for this city and a passion for building community through reading.

Black Dog Book Co.

Black Dog Book Co. is the realization of Amy Jo Bradford’s childhood dream. Amy Jo worked at Rhino Books on Granny White for many years learning the used bookstore business. When she learned that the store was going to close, she knew this was the time to make her dream come true. Amy Jo is from Nashville and has lived here her whole life. She values the role that little local stores, especially bookstores, have played in her life here in Nashville, and wanted to share her love of books with the community. The fact that Rhino Books was replaced with a store run by someone who used to work there and has a true love for books makes this place very special to me.

Amy Jo redesigned the space to be friendly and relaxing with comfy chairs and an open floor plan that maximizes the natural light. Her book collection is extraordinary, ranging from local and southern books that she has collected over the years, to the classics. Amy has a lifetime of knowledge about books and genres. She’s full of great suggestions about what to read next. If you want to hear tales of Nashville, Amy will fill you in on both the dreams and realities of our growing city.

Black Dog’s is located on Granny White Pike across from Lipscomb University and next to Copper Kettle.

Parnassus Books

Located in the heart of Green Hills, Parnassus Books has a whole world inside of it. Parnassus opened in 2011, the brainchild of Ann Patchett, well-known novelist, and her business partner Karen Hayes. The name Parnassus comes from Greece’s Mount Parnassus, mythological home of literature, learning, and music. Ann and Karen strive to make this bookstore Nashville’s own Parnassus. Parnassus offers a wide range of books, including fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, mysteries, and local interests. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, they’ll order it. The staff family there welcomes trying new things, and exploring the world of books through different lenses and they’re always ready with a recommendation. And if you can’t come to Parnassus, they may just come to you in the form of Parnassus On Wheels, their mobile bookstore. The walls inside the big blue bus are lined with new titles and classic favorites. To me, Parnassus in any form is an oasis of uniqueness and comfort.

Parnassus Books is located at 3900 Hillsboro Pike in Green Hills behind the Donut Den.

The Bookshop

The Bookshop, located in East Nashville, is a store for people who love beautiful books. The Bookshop is owned by author Joelle Herr. The white interior puts all the focus where it should be: on the books. They offer a full range of new books including classic and contemporary literary fiction and books about authors and writing. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, they will happily order it for you. They offer Saturday Story Time every Saturday at 10 a.m. for kids of any age, a wonderful way to meet other readers in our community.

The Bookshop is located just off of Gallatin Rd at at 1043 W Eastland Ave.

Khalila Early-Zald
WXNA Intern

Photos by Khalila
Header image by caligula1995 on Flickr

Around Town with Khalila, the WXNA Intern: Coffee Shops

This is the first of a 2-part blog series: Around Town with Khalila, the WXNA Intern

In this week’s post, Khalila explores her favorite local coffee shops and the way that they, like WXNA, create people-powered community.


I think local coffee shops are great places to find bits of Nashville that have remained authentic and unique. The shops listed below are a few of my favorites, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. I encourage you to get out and explore all the great coffee shops Nashville has to offer and find your own favorite spot.

 

Frothy Monkey

Local cigarette smoking basket weaver outside of Frothy Monkey

Frothy Monkey first opened its doors in 2004. The 12 South location is the original and has been my favorite coffee shop since I was young. This little coffee shop is a great place to meet friends, old and new, with a welcoming atmosphere and a robust lunch and dinner menu that can accommodate almost any diet. Frothy Monkey offers a coffee shop buzz, vibe, and environment that has provided me with joy over the years being here. Their other locations offer different vibes, but share killer playlists, beautiful art, and the smell of coffee, tea, and extraordinary food filling the air.

 

Three Brothers Coffee

Mural in Alley beside Three Brothers Coffee done by DCXV
“I want to believe” in coffee sign, based on X-Files in Three Brothers Coffee

The owners of Cumberland Transit, a local outdoor activity supply store, created Three Brothers Coffee to “bring venture-ready customers, locals, and travelers a truly unique coffee experience.” The bicycle parts, hanging bicycles and images of travel adorning the shop may put visitors in a travelling state of mind, but Three Brothers is all about living local. Their menu features goodies from local bakeries Dozen and Star Bagel. The walls feature both rotating and permanent displays by local artists including a mural by Adrien Saporiti, founder of DCXV Industries and creator of the “I Believe In Nashville” murals. Even the magazines and newspapers on offer are local. The coffee selections rotate throughout the seasons and there are plenty of seats, couches, and outlets for you to work, study or catch up with a friend.

 

Bongo Java East

As the owner of Fido, Bongo Java, and Jefferson Street Cafe, Bob Bernstein has created a local coffee shop empire. My favorite outpost of this empire is Bongo Java East in East Nashville in the heart of Five Points. They have a full menu of coffee beverages, breakfast, lunch, snacks and, yes, board games. Thanks to their partnership with Game Point Cafe, you’ll find almost any board game you can think of on the shelves that line the walls. Whether you want to play a simple game or cards or Cards Against Humanity, Bongo Java East provides not only the game, but a game coach who will explain rules, settle disputes, and share the passion of gaming with you. Besides games, the cafe has a rotating display of local artwork in addition to a must-see mural of the types of people often found in a coffee shop. Grab a coffee, explore their rotating menu of seasonal drinks, and play some board games. What more could you ask for?

 

Portland Brew

Brandon and Tracy Stakelbeck came up with the idea of Portland Brew after they visited Portland, Oregon, and fell in love with the coffee shops there. They were attracted to the creative and artistic aspects of Nashville, and wanted to bring the Portland hippie coffee shop vibe to Music City. Portland Brew offers a welcoming space for people to do homework, have meetings, and relax. They have a small menu comprising of muffins and baked goods, sandwiches, and breakfast sandwiches and you’ll know you’re a regular when the friendly staff calls you by name. Portland Brew has locations in 12 South and East Nashville.

 

Bike Parts from Cumberland Transit and artwork by local Nashville artist in Three Brothers

Khalila Early-Zald
WXNA Intern

Photos by Khalila
Header image by Jen on Flickr

Listen And It All Begins To Fit: On Dory Previn

Let’s be clear: I’m not here to discuss Father John Misty. However, I owe it to him to begin this piece by mentioning a playlist he began curating via Spotify a couple years back (in true Father John Misty form, it’s titled Father John Misty’s Father John Misty Playlist). I remember cueing it up with my boyfriend on a road trip one weekend in college, skipping the tracks we already knew and loved from folks like Harry Nilsson or John Fahey, hungry for new sounds to sink into. At some point in the shuffling, Dory Previn’s “Atlantis” began to play:

I lie in bed
beside him
and I know him
outside in
I’ve learned his body’s
line and length
and memorized his grin
I’ve counted
every crease
at the edges
of his eyes
I know his soul’s
complete circumference
I know
his lies

She unfurls these lyrics by way of a sensuous melody, yet her voice remains a bit withheld and guarded; there is no glimmer of a “come hither” sexiness. There’s a show tune-ish-ness to the melody, but no “All That Jazz” cuteness. She sounds kind of in awe, a little bit afraid, maybe wounded. She sounds wild, too.

Hearing “Atlantis” was all I needed. I immediately researched all that I could on Dory Previn née Dorothy Lanagan and learned that she’d passed away on Valentine’s Day in 2012. I found that her life was as complex and winding as her songwriting. She’d been both a writing partner and a life partner to the famous Hollywood composer André Previn before he had an affair and child with actress Mia Farrow in 1969. Dory’s already fragile mental state reached a breaking point when the couple divorced. And when André Previn married Farrow, Dory was hospitalized for her psychosis. Eventually, she began writing her own singer-songwriter tunes as a part of her healing process. One of the first was a song outlining her ex-husband’s affair called “Beware of Young Girls”:

Beware of young girls
Who come to the door
Wistful and pale of twenty and four
Delivering daisies with delicate hands

This track, among others exploring other vulnerable themes such as her childhood trauma (“With My Daddy in the Attic”), fear (“Scared To Be Alone”), and psychosis (“Mister Whisper”) appeared on her debut solo album On My Way To Where (1970). She went on to record five more solo albums in the ‘70s, and one live album at Carnegie Hall.

On her 1974 self-titled album on the Warner Bros label, her voice seems to have reached a new peak of gumption and ease. Tracks such as “Coldwater Canyon” and “Brando” present as a direct commentary on Previn’s zeitgeist in ’70s L.A., both lyrically and musically. Her observations and descriptions are as sharp (and often funny) as ever, but shadowed with a sinuous, poignant longing and self-awareness. Folky instrumentation like steel guitar and Latin-style drums are punctuated with a show-tune-ish urgency that Previn reappropriated from her past to support sophisticated and catchy melodies that effortlessly wield an emotional narrative.

These songs are at once self-deprecating, profound, feminist, dark, funny, sweeping, strange, unique to their time, and ahead of their time. One of my personal favorites is the last track on Dory Previn, “Did Jesus Have a Baby Sister?”:

Did she long to be the saviour
Saving everyone
She met?
And in private to her mirror
Did she whisper:
Saviourette?
Saviourwoman?
Saviourperson?
Save your breath!

The background vocals are searing on this track and the chord changes sound intuitive but are quite complex. There is a less groovy but equally probing song called “Woman Soul” off of 1976’s We Are Children Of Coincidence that brings wonderful nuances to the love song form. I think it speaks to what we might today call “toxic masculinity” with great empathy:

I love him ‘cause he questions all the roles he’s forced to play
‘Grown men don’t cry’: he sees the lie, and cannot change his way
Oh, but he does the best he can; that’s why I love that man
But I also love the woman in his soul

In addition to her records, Dory Previn also published a trio of autobiographies in her lifetime: “On My Way to Where”, “Midnight Baby”, and “Bogtrotter”. They feel like extended liner notes, her lyrics interwoven with stream-of-consciousness narratives and an occasional poem. Her books overlap non-linearly and further explore her troubled childhood and her rise to songwriting in L.A. after several odd jobs including salesgirl, secretary, and chorus girl. She details her inner world and psychosis with a disarming vulnerability. One of my favorite poems included in any of her books is titled “Listen”. I was thrilled when I came across a clip of her on Irish television reading this poem in her inimitably playful yet serene tone:

The feeling in my blood-flow
Is a simple thing you see
I am it
I am it
We are everything and nothing
But that’s how to play the game
In these weatherbeaten bodies
With these godforsaken brains
We can listen
Listen
Listen to the universe resounding
In the pulsing and the pounding
Of our infant ancient veins
Listen
Listen
Listen and it all begins to fit
You are it

Dory’s records have become an anchor for me when I yearn for music to be a space for making meaning beyond sounds and words alone. I find myself enchanted by her snarky honesty, her wistfulness, her admissions of uncertainty and her occasional turns toward nurturing. I am simultaneously shocked and comforted by her voice. And when I’m feeling weatherbeaten I will watch that funny little video, sometimes on repeat. Listen, and it all begins to fit. You are it.

Lauren Turner
Shout, Sister, Shout!
Sundays 1-2 pm

It’s A Nice Day to Start

July 24, 1983

Dear Diary,

I’m in love! Oh, Diary, I’m in love. I haven’t told anyone, only you. And you will keep my secret, won’t you? Oh, Diary, I’ve never felt like this before. The world just seems so much brighter and louder and so alive and it’s all because of him. Oh, I love him, Diary. I love him so much and it makes me so happy!

It’s every girl’s dream to be a beautiful bride. It’s as close as you ever get to being an actual princess. The billowing white dress, the mysterious veil that hides as it reveals . . . a glorious culmination of your existence up to this point. That’s what a wedding is. The height of being, of life. What could be better?

Well, I’ll tell you: A dangerous man, that’s what. A blonde, spiky-haired rebel on a motorcycle. A black-leather-clad man who will take you by the hand and pull you staggering toward him in your beautiful dress, then push a ring onto your finger until the blood wells up. Isn’t that what every girl dreams of? A white wedding?

I watch MTV for hours at a time, waiting for him. I wait for as long as it takes. One music video fades out, another begins . . . and my heart leaps when that guitar intro skitters across my nerves. I lean forward toward the TV, knees pressed hard into the rough carpet, eyes unblinking, brain on fire. I scrutinize every scene, his every move. What does it mean, the ring and the blood? I see the picture in my head on the way home from school. I think about it before I fall asleep at night. For me, there’s no intermediary between the man and the message. I don’t know what a director does. I don’t know who David Mallet is. Every image, every action is a secret delivered straight from the magical man with the sneer to me. I MUST decipher it to discover my destiny.

I used to sit like this on the carpet when I was 5, enthralled by Bert and Ernie and Sesame Street. Now I’m 15, and the world still comes to me in just the same way, via 21-inch screen. It has not occurred to me to question its authenticity. Cable TV is new and exciting. MTV is changing the world. Watching reality unfold inside a glass square is as natural as eating and sleeping. Those images tell the truth. Bert is a grump, Ernie’s a goof, and Billy Idol is the man for me.

“Sexual stereotyping comes to a glorious head in Billy Idol’s ‘White Wedding’ video, which opens with a chorus line of women in black leather waving their fannys at the camera.” (Kristine McKenna)

“Women are depicted in many videos as bitches, teases, castrators, and all-around sex things.” (Elayne Rapping)

“I shudder at the thought of analyzing Billy Idol’s ‘White Wedding,’ with the wedding ring of thorns that makes the bride’s finger bleed, the coffins, the exploding kitchen appliances. This one would have made the Marquis de Sade’s top 40 chart.” (Marvin Kitman)

“They expect it, but they don’t like it . . . they want excitement, as long as it’s not at their own expense. They don’t mind if someone’s outrageous with somebody else.” (Billy Idol)

Inside MTV by R. Serge Denisoff, p. 314

Oh, Diary, I hope that someday that can be me.

Until then,

TTYL,

LYLAS,

XOXO,

Ashley Idol

 

Ashley Crownover

Set Records to Stun

Fridays, 6-8 a.m.

Shut Up and Play the Hiss: An Oral History of “The Magnetic Media Hour”

In the storied (fake) history of free-form radio across these United States, one show left arguably the biggest impression of them all.  “The Magnetic Media Hour” was one of the first shows to push the medium in new and interesting directions. Hosted by J. D. Warkel, “The Magnetic Media Hour” was an avant-garde hour of the most unique recordings on the planet. Interestingly, those recordings also happened to be some of the most common. This is the story of how that show came to be, thrived and ultimately faded away, told by the people who where there.

J. D. Warkel, host: I remember the first first thing I played. It was a TDK-60. Found it in a box of old coins at an estate sale in Tupolo. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything quite like it.

Allison Silverslaw, station manager, KOQK: J.D. was a pioneer. When he came to us and said he only wanted to play blank audio cassettes over the air, I initially called security and had him thrown out of the building. But he was persistent. After his third attempt, he threw a brick through my office window with a Maxell-120 tied to it and a note that read, “Just listen!” I’m glad that I did — he was right. The sound was incredible. Three months later, after he was released from county lock-up, I gave him a show.

Tim Gurt, warehouse manager, Electronics Bazaar: He was absolutely a regular. Always asking what kind of shipments were were getting in each week. And then every Friday he’d be at the front doors before the store opened. I’d meet him in the atrium and take him to the back room and we’d break down pallets together. In exchange for getting first dibs on all of the new cassettes, he would also help me stock the ink cartridges.

J.D. Warkel: When most people see a blank tape — at lease back in those days — they would see it as a way for them to record “other” music — songs off of the radio, their own LPs so they could listen to them in the car, mixes for that special someone in their life. But those people were all rubes and criminals. They didn’t realize what was being lost. The purity of the hiss, that’s what I was evangelizing.

Tammy T. Plop, listener KOQK: I was driving around one Saturday night testing out parking spaces — y’know, too wide, too narrow, is it angled? — anyway, I had the radio tuned to KOQK — I had my knob snap off a few weekends before, lost it in a parking lot (great lot, by the way, the striping was impeccable), so my radio was pretty much always locked in on KOQK. It’s a good station for parking, y’know? The variety of what they play really helps with the variety of parking spaces you find in most lots or public garages. Wait a minute, what was the question again?

Allison Silverslaw: I think it was after his third show when we started to get a lot of feedback from the community. A common refrain was, “I thought your signal went out, but I guess not” or “I don’t understand what is happening? I don’t hear anything but hiss.” People were really into it. “I wish this were music!” they’d say. 

J.D. Warkel: I didn’t like the JVC tapes. I know some do, but they never did it for me. Look, I’m not going to criticize another person’s taste when it comes to hiss, but in my experience the only people that listen to JVCs are clowns — literal clowns.

Allison Silverslaw: At the time, our second most popular show was “Big Shoe Dance Party,” which was a two-hour show featuring clown and circus music. It was hosted by Mr. Sundrop, a prominent member of the local clowning community. One Thursday Mr. Sundrop started playing blank JVC tapes — I think he featured the A side of a 60-minute tape a friend had passed along. People really loved it. Of course, this didn’t sit well with J.D. 

J.D. Warkel: Mr. Sundrop? I don’t want to talk about Mr. Sundrop.

Alan Vick (aka Mr. Sundrop), professional clown: Look, I just want to make people happy — which is harder and harder to do these days as a clown. I don’t know if you’ve read the papers, but clowns are really struggling. Everyone is afraid of us! I’m not saying we can blame J.D. entirely for that, but he wasn’t not not responsible, y’know? Wait, how many negatives is that? It was supposed to be two — but now I’m thinking it was three. Can we start over?

J.D. Warkel: All I’m saying is he ripped me off. I don’t want to talk about it. But he’s a thief and he ripped me off! Let’s change the subject. If I see Mr. Sundrop again, and I don’t care if he’s making a balloon poodle for some eight year-old, but I’m gonna take off that dumb red nose of his, and I’m gonna make him eat it. With his mouth. All of it. 

Allison Silverslaw: I think we knew things were changing when J.D. started playing vinyl. 

J.D. Warkel: A buddy of mine hooked me up with an unpressed 180-gram LP from a local record plant (actually, without all of the groves, it might even be 181 grams). Anyway, I wanted to broaden my horizons – thought the listeners would really appreciate it. Way more than that clown music. That’s for sure.

Allison Silverslaw: I’d never heard so many complaints. One woman came up from the parking lot screaming about her ears.

Tammy T. Plop: The sound was just horrible. There was nothing subtle about it. I was parallel parking at time — right outside the station. I couldn’t take it anymore. I just left the car running and went in to look for the station manager. My car was a solid 8 inches from the curb. I was so ashamed.

Allison Silverslaw: He locked the door to the studio so we couldn’t stop him. He played the entirety of the B-Side. When he replaced the turntable stylus for the second time, we decided to take drastic actions and pulled the station off the air. At the time KOQK had been broadcasting non-stop since 1949. It was a dark day.

J.D. Warkel: Do I wish I could do it over again? Yeah, I do. I regret playing the vinyl. I’m a magnetic tape guy. It’s in my blood. And I hated going back to county lockup. In hindsight, not all communication has to happen with a message taped to a brick. 

Tim Gurt: When magnetic tape started to fade away, he stopped coming into the store. CD-Rs, that’s what we were stocking. I think he bought out the last of our Maxell stock, and then just sort of vanished. But I do remember seeing him one Saturday afternoon in the late 90s, standing in front of the shelves and quietly weeping. It was sad. But, if I’m gonna be honest with you, I’m a simple man. I prefer listening to recorded music. I never really understood the whole ‘hiss’ thing. It sounds “warmer” he would always say. What does that mean, warmer? Can I dance to it? Does it have a killer guitar solo? In the bridge does it change key? These are the questions that are important to me. Eh, what do I know.

“The Magnetic Media Hour” went off the air on August 14th, 1993. This November “Big Shoe Dance Party” will be celebrating it’s 30th year on the air.

Rick Pecoraro
WXNA Contributor

Photo credit: stuart.childs on Flickr