The 6 Best Ways to Beat the Cold in Nashville

So, I'm most definitely not a cold-weather person - and thanks to Mother Nature, I've had quite the (sudden) amount of adjusting to do here in Nashville. That said, I think it's best to focus on the positive and enjoy a few of the elements that come along with the season: Fires, Christmas Lights, the Holidays, Blankets, Peppermint everything.

Along with these yearly staples come a few of my most favorite ways to beat the cold in town. So if you can muster enough bravery to venture out into the elements, be sure not to miss the following.

Sweet Potato & Torched Marshmallow Ice Cream at Jenis
Freezing cold outside and Ice Cream? Only when it's Jenis. I count down the days for this seasonal flavor to reappear on the menu - and it's here! You need to partake. Now.

1892 Eastland Avenue
2312 12th Ave South

Chatting with Michael W. Smith - All things Christmas!

I recently had the chance to sit down with one of my favorite artists, the one and only Michael W. Smith to discuss his newly released Christmas record The Spirit of Christmas, the subsequent tour, and his upcoming performances on CMA's Country Christmas - airing on ABC Monday, December 1 at 7PM Central.

Michael W. Smith with Carrie Underwood at the CMA Country Christmas Taping
If you haven't given The Spirit of Christmas a listen, do. It's my own personal dream-duet album, featuring cuts with Vince Gill, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Amy Grant, Carrie Underwood, and more. Carrie's take on Michael-penned classic "All Is Well" is life changing, and Lady A/Little Big Town just get to me with their smooth harmonies on "White Christmas" and "Silent Night", respectively. And ya'll: Martina! Goodness gracious. Her and Michael's take on "What Child is This" is gloriously haunting and truly powerful.

Seriously, Michael et al? Thank you. I need to take a moment.

Moving on.

It was wonderful chatting with Mr. Smith about the album, kicking off the holiday season with the utmost style. So here we go.

Little Big Town, CTD.

Little Big Town Performing Live for Walmart Soundcheck

Fresh off of winning their much-deserved 2014 CMA Award for Vocal Group of the Year, Little Big Town has released the remainder of their interview and live performances from a recent session with Walmart Soundcheck. Ya'll. You must check it out.

Episode 2 features performances of LBT's classic 2005 (and first top ten) hit "Boondocks", and "Quit Breaking Up with Me" from their new record Pain Killer. They candidly share a bit about their love for our city, too, with member Philip Sweet mentioning that "the minute I drove into this town it felt like home... People just embraced me here, and it makes you feel like it's a real community. It's like a small town." Jimi Westbrook adds, "There's so many great things going on right now in town, too. There's new restaurants coming, all these amazing chefs are moving here. I think culturally it's just changing and expanding." 

No doubt an exciting time to be in Nashville. I love this little (big) town. 

Okay, so that was really bad. Continuing on.

LBT dishes even more on the new record in Episode 3, along with performances of last summer's hit "Pontoon" and Pain Killer's "Stay All Night" - the latter being quite possibly my favorite moment of the entire Soundcheck. The group's true, raw talent and brilliant harmonies shine on this number, and whew. Jimi just Breaks. It. Down. And yes, it is incredible.

Have you taken a listen to Pain Killer yet? What are your thoughts on the new record?

Check out a Live Performance from Little Big Town (and allow me to profess my love for just a moment)

Little Big Town's sixth studio album, Pain Killer, has officially graced us with its presence this week and ya'll - it is fantastic. I recently had the pleasure of sitting in on their Walmart Soundcheck live performance which further reiterated to me why they are one of most talented bands currently in country music. Their soaring harmonies, the quality of songs, the raw emotion: in other words, another level of talent, and the antithesis of 'bro country' - a welcome breath of fresh air and qualities which are increasingly (ridiculously) rare in country radio today.

Chatting with Little Big Town
Pain Killer's first single, Day Drinking, is the featured number on the first of a three-episode series the group recorded for Soundcheck, along with an exclusive interview featuring a little background on the new record. The fabulous Karen Fairchild says it best when she describes Pain Killer as aggressive, bold, and brave and notes they "wrestled it to the ground." Damn girl. I love it (and you. Ps. Remember when you told me I was cute?)

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and check out recording - I promise, you won't regret it. Oh, and while you're there, you can also enter to win a signed guitar by Little Big Town. Nbd.

Be sure to stay tuned, as the remainder of LBT's episodes will be released in the upcoming weeks.

The Best Haunted House in Nashville 2014

Fall: It's one of my favorite times of year in Nashville. The changing leaves, the cooling temps, bonfires, cider, s'mores, Oktoberfest. Oh, and Haunted Houses. For some reason, something about immersing ones self in a terrifying experience is obnoxiously appealing to me - and I look forward to the season every. single. year.
Image Courtesy of Nashville Nightmare
I've visited my fair share of haunts in town, and I have to crown a new favorite for 2014 - one that quite simply stands out above and beyond any house I've ever experienced: Nashville Nightmare. The sets, the design, costumes, overall production, the fact that it consistently scared the hell out of me and my friends - all elements of a top notch haunted house, which made for an absolutely terrifying experience.

There are actually two houses on site - Night Terrors and Horror High. The first, contains over 25,000 square feet of scenes that will undoubtedly re-visit you in your nightmares. I can't begin to tell you how many times I screamed. Out loud. Like a child. Whatever. The latter, Haunted High, is located in the abandoned remains of an actual high school. Terrifying. By the time we made it through both, I was without voice. I mean, no big deal, right?

If you're looking for even more, thorough reviews of the other Haunted Houses in Nashville, I recommend turning to my friends at the Nashville Scene and checking their stellar recommendations. Scene contributor Justin Stokes ranks the various haunts based on scariness, acting, costumes, production design, time, price, ingenuity, lighting, sound and misc. novelty factors: a scale which of course seems ghoulish-ly appropriate. 

Topping The Scene's list with an A+ is the aforementioned Nashville Nightmare, which Stokes describes contains "makeup and monsters of a caliber you'd expect at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights." Also note, Nashville Nightmare was also named among the top 31 Haunts in the nation by Haunted Attraction Magazine, so enter if you dare.

Top 5 Music Venues in Nashville

You're in Nashville. Whether you live here or are just visiting, you must take advantage and catch some of the unbelievable musicians while in town - truly, you're among the greatest in the world.

Of course the artist you're seeing will define how the good the show is or is not, but, I'd argue that equally as impactful is the space that you see them in. Luckily, Nashville is filled with plenty of spots that will please even the most discriminatory of musical act and venue palettes.

Here are my choices for the BEST music venues in Nashville (and in my typical fashion, the following are in no particular order):

The Basement
There is just something about this place. Literally in the basement of a business on 8th Avenue near Downtown, I have seen some of the most incredible musicians in my life come in and out its doors. A small, intimate venue that gets you up close and personal with the performing acts.

Attend a Songwriters Show + Support a Great Cause

I love supporting a cause and giving back to our fabulous Nashville community in any way I can. Just a few of the many perks of living in our city are the talented folks and music involved to help raise funds for charity. Creative Nation, a music publishing and management company owned by Luke and Beth Laird, is hosting a benefit for local organization Preston Taylor Ministries on Tuesday, October 21. 

The evening will include performances by Creative Nation’s talented roster songwriters: Luke Laird (hits include Carrie Underwood's "So Small", "Last Name", Little Big Towns "Pontoon", and Sara Evans "A Little Bit Stronger"), Barry Dean ("Pontoon", Jason Aldean's "1994" and Ingrid Michaelson's "Girls Chase Boys"), Natalie Hemby (Miranda Lambert's "White Liar", "Automatic", and Lady A's "Downtown") and Maggie Chapman, as well as some special guests. 

Don't miss your chance to be up close and personal with some of the biggest song writers in the world, all while helping provide hope to children living in the Preston Taylor public housing area, who every day face problems like drug use, gang involvement, teenage pregnancy, illiteracy, poor school performance, and crime.

The event begins at 6:00 PM at 3rd & Lindsley with all proceeds going directly to PTM. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here