experience nashville

your insider guide for a local perspective on Nashville, Tennessee.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Brad Blackburn Crowned Winner of Open Mic Night @ The Bluebird Cafe!

brad blackburn wholly guacamole nashville open mic night bluebird cafe

Oh, what a night. Had so much fun covering and attending the Nashville stop of #LiveWhollyTour, an open mic competition held at the historic Bluebird Café! There were over twenty fabulously talented entrants, but only one walked away with $500, the opportunity to open for a national act, and a chance to win the $10,000 grand prize. Congratulations to singer-songwriter Brad Blackburn – and Nashville, be sure and stay tuned to livewhollytour.eatwholly.com for your chance to help crown Brad the ultimate victor when online voting begins August 19!

I had the chance to catch up with Brad after the show for a quick chat. Naturally, we talked Nashville, Bluebird, and the impact this opportunity has had on his future.

How does it feel to take home the grand prize from the #LiveWhollyTour stop in Nashville?

Incredible. There was so much talent at the Bluebird that night. It was a real honor to be chosen by the judges. And the $500 grand prize... I mean who couldn’t use $500? I’m working on an album, which can be a costly process, so that’ll be a huge help financially.

The Bluebird Café is such an institution for singer/songwriters in Nashville. What does it mean to you to be able to play the stage that launched the careers of so many legends – from Garth Brooks to Taylor Swift?

That was my 7th time playing The Bluebird I believe and it never gets old. It truly is an awesome venue with so much history. The audience is always 100% attentive and respectful of whoever is performing. I’d never turn down a chance to play The Bluebird; it’s a privilege. 

Tell us how “Good Go Bad” – the song you performed and ultimately won with, came about. What inspired it?

"Good Go Bad” is about that girl whose definitely not the best idea for you and who you doubt is looking for any type of commitment, but you’re just sorta powerless to her charm. Basically, she’s the player, you know it’s not gonna end well, but you just can’t say no. I may have found myself in a similar situation once or twice… Anyway, I wrote it with my roommates, Trey Wehrmeyer and Johnny Dibb, our sophomore year at Belmont. We wrote the music before the lyrics, so once we had that dark groove going, I knew it wasn’t gonna be about some ideal happy relationship. 

Nashville itself is home to so many up and coming musicians like you. How has living here impacted you and your career?

There’s so many good writers and players in Nashville.. Too many. But I love it. It drives me to work harder every day. There’s this feeling that someone’s always out there working harder than you, and that can really push you to be your best. On top of the talent, there’s plenty of ways to get connected with publishers, labels, management, etc.. I’ve been to so many great shows and gotten to meet some really great people. It’s an awesome community and I’ve absolutely loved my past 3 years here.

Speaking of Nashville… let’s chat some of your favorite spots!

Favorite venue to Perform: The Listening Room Café
Favorite place to see a Show: Mercy Lounge
Favorite Burger: Fat Bottom Brewery
Favorite place to grab a beer: Village Pub & Beer Garden
Where might we see you out and about in town on a weekend? I’d have to say The Listening Room Café.  I play there pretty frequently and so do a lot of my writer friends. It’s a really cool spot! 


Congrats on your win and thank you, Brad, for taking the time to chat. Finally, a huge thanks to Wholly Guacamole for sponsoring such a wonderful evening in Nashville!

<Sponsored Post>
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Friday, June 24, 2016

Open Mic Night June 27 at the Bluebird Cafe!

open mic night bluebird cafe

Hey Nashville. I have exciting news!

But first, let’s talk about where it's all going down, the historic Bluebird Café: a Nashville institution where legends are born. Perhaps you’ve heard of Garth Brooks, Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, or maybe Taylor Swift? Yes –- they ALL had their breaks at Bluebird. Who’s next you might ask? Well, I’m SO excited to team up with WHOLLY GUACAMOLE® to host #LiveWhollyTour, an open mic night June 27 at 6:00 PM -- where we just might discover Nashville’s next big name in music.

We all know Snapchat turns us into adorable puppies and gorgeous flower-crowned goddesses, and auto tune turns any of us hairbrush-singers and traffic-harmonizers into Carrie Underwood. Life is best when lived unfiltered and authentic, right? This is why we’re teaming up with Wholly Guacamole, who is making a cross-country journey to find America’s most talented, unfiltered musical talent. The ultimate winner will receive $10,000, and a chance to pursue their music dream opening for a national act -- proving these crazy dreams can and do come true, especially when you stay true to your authentic self. Not making it to the Nashville audition? You've still got a chance! Submit your audition online here.

We all know Nashville is home the most authentic, raw-talented musicians in the world, and what a fabulous opportunity we have to showcase this yet again to the world. You’re not going to want to miss out on the chance to see our next hometown superstar – and I’ve got the scoop on how you can watch it all go down: Follow along the night of with Experience Nashville! Here’s how:

@experiencenash on Instagram
@experiencenash on Twitter
@mattniehoff on Snapchat

See you June 27!


This post was sponsored by WHOLLY GUACAMOLE® -- a brand which knows real life is best lived unfiltered and authentic. Those who truly live, know how to #LiveWholly. With no added preservatives or artificial colors or flavors, but instead made with Hass avocadoes and nutritional ingredients like tomatoes and garlic, WHOLLY GUACAMOLE® is authentically delicious and nutritious, with no compromises.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

LGBT Friendly Guide to Nashville

lgbt friendly nashville

Despite being located in the South, as a 9+ year resident of Nashville, I can personally attest it is a city which warmly welcomes both its LGBT residences and guests. An incredible, vocally supportive mayor (who married the first gay couple in Nashville when it became legal in 2015, who's office promptly arranged a memorial following the tragedy in Orlando) stands alongside so many businesses and residents alike who strongly support equality amongst all.

I recently sat down with Nashville's LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Loews Vanderbilt Nashville to discuss this idea of creating a LGBT-friendly itinerary for Loews' #TravelForReal campaign, and through said conversation hand-selected businesses and compiled a three day agenda of my faves who strongly support the LGBT community. This was initially designed as a "staycation" for LGBT Nashvillians but certainly can be used by all locals and visitors, as well!

Without further adieu:

Day 1:


Brunch at Mad Donnas
One of Nashville's most popular Brunch spots and one you definitely do not want to miss. Don't let the line scare you -- you'll be through it and casually brunching in no time. Brunch features reasonable prices, 2-for-1 Mimosas, a Bloody Mary bar, their fabulous burgers, Cap'n Crunch French toast, and more.

1313 Woodland Street, Nashville

Dinner and Cocktails at Mason's


The hotel-restaurant stigma is completely thrown out the window with Mason's restaurant and bar, located in the lobby of the Loews Hotel. Chic atmosphere, top-notch service, and delicious food and beverage menus round out one of my favorite spots in town. Watching your figure? Erin Oprea, Carrie Underwood's personal trainer, has you covered. Oprea herself worked with the Mason's team to create delicious (healthy) options on both the food and cocktail list -- just look for the barbells next to the menu item. Like me and prefer to go all out? I highly recommend the Lamb meatballs, Shrimp and Grits, Ancho Spiced Berkshire Pork Chop, Brussels Sprouts, and Springer Mountain Farms Chicken. Don't forget about dessert too -- the pastry chef is certainly bringing her A-game.

2100 West End Avenue, Nashville

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Local Adventure 1 - A Night in Downtown Nashville

escape game nashville desanos nashville bar sovereign nashville date night local

Well hey y'all!

I wanted to start posting thoughts I have here and there so fellow locals (and non-locals) can have a few ideas of what to do for night out on the town with friends. I, for one, oftentimes struggle coming up with eventful ideas so as they happen in my world -- I'll jot them down for you.

Let's start with what we did last Saturday eve.

Escape Experience Nashville


I've heard rumblings over the past year or two of Escape Games happening in Nashville -- yet never had the lovely opportunity to try it out for myself. Thankfully, that changed last week and my goodness y'all -- this is awesome. Choose between breaking out of prison in C-Block or solving clues to earn your part of your crazy Uncle's Will in The Inheritance.

Strategy, word problems, secret passageways (!), and investigation work combined for one of the most fun hours I've spent in quite some time. There is so much thought and effort that goes into these games and the spaces they occupy, you must check it out ASAP. Future rooms to include surviving a disease which wipes out 90% of the world's population in Vaccine, preventing a World War in The Bunker, and more.

501 Union Street, Nashville, TN 37219

DeSanos Pizza


All of the brainpower you use to escape can conjure up quite the appetite. Just down the street is one of my fave pizza joints in town: DeSanos. They offer authentic, drool-worthy Italian-style pizza (so Italian, their ovens and ingredients come from the motherland themselves). A recent addition gives you plenty more room to sit and enjoy your pizza, and BONUS -- you can BYOW (bring your own wine).

115 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203

Bar Sovereign


After-dinner cocktail time (obvs.) There's a new bar in town and you MUST give them a try. Again an overdue experience for me to take in, Bar Sovereign is pure bad-assery -- so don't make the same mistake. Fabulous cocktails, service, and killer atmosphere. I love the subtle entrance (very speak-easy) and the overall vibe is killer. Very much looking forward to making this a regular watering hole.

514 5th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203



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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Want to be Healthy and Social in Nashville? Erin Oprea, personal trainer to Carrie Underwood, explains how.

erin oprea carrie underwood personal trainer 4 x 4 diet

I sat down to chat with fabulous local trainer to the stars (ahem. Carrie Underwood), Erin Oprea, who recently released her first book The 4x4 Diet. Outlining her diet, exercises (most of which you can do on-the-go), meal plans and recipes -- the book is a perfect solution for anyone looking to streamline their waistline + lifestyle. 

Our chat covers Erin's personal faves of how you can be social and still be healthy in Nashy. Want legs like Ms. Underwood? Read on. 

What inspired you to go into personal training?

There are quite a few reasons actually. Let me list them!

-I have a love for fitness
-I have a love for movement
-I am hyper but it is slowly abating as I grow older. Not gone yet.
-My father was an active man and got me addicted to soccer early on that transitioned into all kinds of healthy activities like long distance biking.
-I am at my happiest when my clients get a good workout and start seeing results. Mentally and physically. Their happiness and self confidence increases dramatically.

Why Nashville?

This is where I was living when it all started and I have been witness to the great rise of this fantastic city.

I want legs like Carrie. Where do I start?

Consistency and diet are key. One of the main drives I had to put The 4x4 Diet out into the world is to make sure that people understand how important nutrition is in combination with movement to develop that strong lean body. Carrie understands this and works very hard to get herself where she wants to be. She is not the only one allowed to have a smokin' body, so are you! Go get it (my book and the legs)! My book will help you get the healthiest version of you.

4 x 4 diet -- why is this method the best? How did you come up with?

This is the best way to combine healthy eating and working out without compromising the fun to be had in life. Don't give up what you love, cut back on the portions that don't allow you to be the healthiest version. Don't have an hour for the gym? Do a couple Tabatas before work, 1 at lunch and a couple more when you hit home. You have four minutes, you have to put time in for your own health and happiness. 

I constantly am watching and researching ways to work out. For my clients, yes, but mainly for myself! I love challenging my own routines and will take any idea and craft it into a workout that is safe and effective. This goes for meals as well. All the recipes in The 4x4 Diet are from years of experimenting and adjusting so that it meets my own standards. I still do it to this day and even adjust the book's recipes to my current taste with different spices and portions!

So I'm social. And always busy with work. 4x4 diet seems like it can accommodate this lifestyle -- is it true?

Absolutely! The key is a little planning. My prep day is imperative to the meals I eat throughout the week. When people eat poorly it is usually becasue they lack the time to prepare a long winded recipe. However, if most of the main pieces are ready then it makes it SO much easier to just grab and go! Just baking a bunch of well-seasoned chicken allows you to grab it quickly for meals or even a snack. Plus you can get a Tabata done in the time it takes to reheat your prep foods! Try to get out of that one!

Keeping the 4x4 diet in mind (for the most part)... let's talk Nashville recs.

Date Night 

Date night for my husband and I usually revolves around walking in between restaurants. Steps while digesting small plates puts you in the 4x4 wheelhouse! Kale salad at St. Anejo with salmon added (light to no cheese and dressing on the side). Walk to The Farm House for some great seasonal vegetables and head to Germantown for City House's for some broccoli salad. If it's my indulgence meal I will definitely hit up their Bellyham pizza. One of our favorites. You can get up 15-20,000 steps in a night like that. Romantic!

Happy Hour

The healthiest drink option is my own! Grab the Rosarita at Mason's Bar inside Loews Vanderbilt. They have collaborated with me to not only create a delicious, low sugar cocktail but also some absolutely yummy dishes. Look for the barbell on the menu so you KNOW it's Erin Oprea approved!

Dessert 

This is tricky territory. For a special night that is not 4x4 Diet approved yet still magical, you have to go try the Apple Fritter Bread Pudding topped with ice cream and salted caramel at M Restaurant inside Cummins Station. Please don't eat all of it, it is NOT healthy :).

Casual Meal out on the Town 

I love Bricktops. Often after work engagements downtown I'll join my husband to finish off the workday by sitting at the bar and having the Ahi Tuna Salad with the dressing on the side. Make sure to ask for extra greens because I love my greens. Don't tell them I told you to do that, they'll hate me :).

Place to Work Out (Outdoors)

Yes Please! Behind the Capitol building is a large sweeping set of stairs that is really fun to run up and down. A big plaza at the top of them allows for an area to do an entire workout. Don't know what to do? Stick around for 5 minutes and you'll see someone there getting their fitness on and steal their ideas. Better yet, bring my book and make the most of your time!

Any Other Fun Ideas for Exercise in Nashville 

The Percy Warner loops are fantastic to run and hike through. Not only will you meet some great dogs but there is that fantastic set of steps to hit up for a good lung burner.  

Thanks, Erin! You can pick up your very own copy of The 4x4 Diet here!
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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Steadfast Commons - The Newest (+ fab) Downtown Nashville Restaurant/Coffee Destination


photos: Mikaela Hamilton Steinwedell

A beautiful new addition to the Nashville dining/culinary/coffee/drinking scene, Steadfast Commons -- a fabulously unique and beautifully executed spot -- should be immediately added to any local foodie's list of ‘go-tos’ when finding thy-selves downtown. The gentlemen behind the uber-popular coffee shop Steadfast in Germantown quietly opened the doors to this newest venture in January.

Commons features Steadfast roasts, teas, homemade pastries and lunch items during the day (yum), and transitions to a dinner and cocktail-focused menu in the evening. And y’all, I for one am SO excited to have a new option downtown to hit before shows. So, yay.

Now, for the dirty (and quite important) deets. The team have again enlisted acclaimed chef Julia Sullivan (Per Se, Blue Hill, Pinewood Social) to create the market-driven food menu, which expands upon the culinary program she created for Steadfast in Germantown. Sullivan is joined in the kitchen by chef Megan Jay (Silly Goose, Dinner Lab).

Cocktail specialist Troy Sidle (a veteran of Pouring Ribbons and The Violet Hour and founder of Canvas Bar Design) has created a cocktail menu exclusively for Steadfast Commons. To capitalize on the excellent coffee program, created by co-founder Nathanael Mehrens, many of the drinks utilize Steadfast flash chilled espresso in bitters, liqueurs, syrups and sodas (and let me tell you, are all incredible). Wine and beer will also be available.

Next time you find yourself downtown, I’d recommend popping in to take a peek. Because coffee. And good food. And dranks.

299 Demonbruen Street
Nashville, TN 37201
Hours: 7am - 3pm and 5pm - 12am.

More pics below.










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Monday, January 25, 2016

Skyville Live Presents Cyndi Lauper, Kelsea Ballerini, and Ingrid Michaelson


Update



Ya'll. The show was incredible

Lauper opened with her take on the 1959 classic "Heartaches by the Number," and continued the night with hits "Time after Time" and "True Colors". Ingrid's cover of "Can't Help Falling in Love"was certainly one of the most epic musical moments I've experienced in town. Ballerini killed the country-classic ballad "Make the World Go Away," a song written by the legendary Eddy Arnold (and previously covered by Martina McBride). Several duets and number ones later, the ladies closed the night with "Girls Just Want to Have Fun".

Check out photos from the night and learn about upcoming shows via Skyvillelive.com.

(Side note: Lauper's country covers LP Detour drops in May.)

----------

On January 28, prepare to have your mind. blown.

Grammy, Emmy, and Tony-award winning musical LEGEND Cyndi Lauper is performing in Nashville this Thursday with special guests (and two of my faves) Keslea Ballerini and Ingrid Michaleson. And the best part is? It's free. You too can join myself partaking in what is sure to be a most epic musical experience. Access the show by downloading the go90 mobile app on the App Store or Google Play -- it begins at 7:00PM CST.

Skyville Live is an Emmy nominated series that launched here in town back in January 15. And with pairings like this one (and their last -- Lady A, Kris Kristofferson, and Jewel), I for one can't wait to see what collabs are coming up in the future.

Whew. Because Cyndi Lauper. And Nashville. I frigging love this town.

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