Luna and the Wolf

Middle Tennessee has become one big ice cube today. Our driveway has become a skating rink in the little bit of snow that covered the grass is now thick ice. Good thing we had a super busy weekend and I don’t mind being stuck in the house too much. Yesterday, I told you about the Hot Chocolate Run we ran early Valentin’s morning, but the day wasn’t over then. That afternoon. Luna’s Great Grandmother took me and Luna to see the Nashville Ballet perform Peter and the Wolf.  (Her first ballet!)

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The ballet was at TPAC, our favorite place in Nashville, and the Polk theater was jam packed with kids of all ages. Luna was definitely one of the youngest (and cutest) little future ballerinas in attendance. Before the show started she spent every moment climbing up and down the stairs and trying desperately to roam the aisles. I was dreading the start of the show because I just knew Luna would be too wiggly and restless to sit still. However, when the lights dimmed and the story began, my little wiggle worm leaned back into my chest and focused her attention directly to the stage.

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The ballet was adorable. It was all geared towards the kids. The props and costumes were super colorful, the music was not too loud or complicated, the dancing was entertaining and graceful and, best of all, it was educational. Luna stared at the dancers for a good 35 minutes before getting bored. I was well prepared though, I quickly handed her some baby crackers and she was content for the next ten minutes, which is when the show ended.

ballet

Afterwards they had a special activity for the kids to stay in chat with the dancers, but Luna is a too young to enjoy that. We all had a great time at the ballet. It’s been YEARS since I’ve seen Peter and the Wolf  and I’d completely forgotten how great it is. Hopefully, Luna will continue to enjoy it and I’ll get to take her many more times as she grows up!

Cheers!

Chicago in Nashville

chicago

For those of you who are in Nashville and have not taken advantage of the Broadway shows that tour through the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC), I have one question for you… WHY??? Why are you not seeing all of these fabulous shows?! If I hear one more person say, “It’s not New York” or “It’s not real Broadway” I am going to take my shoe off and throw it….scratch that, I don’t want to hurt my shoe… I am going to sit you down and give you a very stern talking to, yep.

First of all, in case you haven’t noticed, we do not live in New York, so good luck seeing a show in New York as often as you can here. Secondly, have you seen a show at TPAC recently? They are phenomenal. Seriously, the traveling shows are no joke; the set, the costumes and the actors are all the real deal and they bring their A game. Just last night I saw Chicago, starring John O’Hurley (yeah the John O’Hurley). The two lead roles were played by women performed the same roles on Broadway (the real Broadway) and “Mama” was played by, Roz Ryan, another accomplished actress. The amount of talent on stage was almost too much to handle.

john

Chicago is a cross between Law and Order and How to Get Away With Murder (have you been watching that?!? It’s CRAZY!) It tells the story of two women on Murderess Row who are clearly guilty of murdering their lovers, yet manage to get away with their crime. They are young, beautiful, led by a slimy smart lawyer and able to woo the jury into believing their innocent. The craziest part is that this is all based on a true story!

A young woman, Maurine Dallas Watkins, an aspiring writer, covered the story of the real women on Murderess Row in Cook County Jail in Chicago. She was especially taken by two women’s story whom eventually became the inspiration for her play (not musical), Chicago. I recently learned this interesting bit of information and was shocked to learn that it wasn’t Bob Fosse who originated Chicago. Who knew?

jazz hands

Speaking of Fosse, can we discuss what I really loved about this musical? I have never seen a live version of Chicago, but I have been a huge fan of the music, the movie and the choreography for years! The live version did not disappoint. Fosse’s style is so unique, yet timeless. it’s been a long time since I’ve seen jazz (any version) performed on stage and it was a little nostalgic to watch the Fosse moves and jazz hands last night. The songs are better when you hear them live. I mean, really, you have to watch the “Cell Block Tango”, it’s not meant to only be heard.

The acting was great ,but Bianca Marroquin (Roxie Hart) was the standout performer for me. She blew me away! Her voice, her comedic timing and especially the scene where she plays a puppet on Billy Flynn’s knee…phenomenal. She’s the best actress I’ve seen at TPAC since the recent girl who played Glenda the Good in Wicked. I loved her. And, I loved the show.

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Now, get off your bums (well, stay on your bums if you’re on the computer), check out TPAC’s Broadway line-up and buy yourself some tickets! And, if you do not live near here, then be sure to check out the tour dates for Chicago. You will NOT regret it.

Cheers!

Coffee and Classics All By Myself

The past weekend was AMAZING and super busy. We did something fun and awesome everyday, which means I have some fun and awesome events to review for you. I’ll start with Friday… Friday morning I got to review the Nashville Symphony’s (Schermerhorn Symphony Center) Coffee and Classic’s series. I had planned on going with Husband, but turned out he was the only one who could watch Luna. So, I got all dolled up and headed downtown all by myself.

coffee and classics

At first, I felt slightly apprehensive about attending the symphony alone. I’m used to being with someone pretty much all of the time, being alone seemed a little scary, at first. Then, it wasn’t scary. It was awesome. From the quiet car ride to the single chair and hot cup of coffee, it was nothing but awesome. I have never been to the symphony (minus the one time I took my 2nd grade class on a field trip), so I really didn’t know what to expect. I learned quite a bit during this first experience of mine and I became a forever fan of they symphony

The first thing I learned was to arrive early. I left with enough time to arrive 30 minutes early, but after driving through downtown traffic, searching for a parking space, paying and walking to the theatre, I barely had enough time to scarf a blueberry muffin and add a little creamer to my coffee. Thankfully, they allow you to bring your coffee inside. Otherwise, I may have missed the first number. I joined the crowd of senior citizens and found my seat which was located at the end of an aisle and an empty seat next to it. Yay! I expected a crowd of Moms and kids, but I guess there are lots of elderly people who prefer to drive during the day and not hangout downtown at night. I get that.

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Before the show began the conductor gave us a history lesson over the composer, Rachmaninoff, and symphony No. 2 in E minor. It was lighthearted, humorous and interesting. The whole setting was laid-back. People dressed more casual, drank coffee and laughed at the composer’s jokes. As soon as the show started I was transfixed. The way the strings moved up and down simultaneously and the fantastic facial expressions each violinists made was mesmerizing. I didn’t know if I could appreciate the classical music the way it should be appreciated, considering my lack of knowledge when it comes to symphonies, but holy cow, it is impressive how instrumental music can arouse such a wide array of emotions.  And, come on, who doesn’t love watching the conductor? It’s amusing and stunning at the same time.

Honestly, the coffee and classics experience was the exact kind of peaceful break I needed. It was as relaxing as a stroll in the park, as soothing as a coffee break at Starbucks and as magical as an hour trying the new products at Sephora. Not to mention, it finally gave me an opportunity to dust off the real clothes hanging in my freshly cleaned and organized closet.

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The symphony reminded me to do three very important things, three things that we should all do more often.

Be still.

Listen.

Reflect.

Scratch that. There’s a fourth thing; enjoy something beautiful.

Shouldn’t we take the time to do that everyday? I guess that’s why I enjoyed being alone so much that morning. It gave me the opportunity to sit still, listen without needing to respond, reflect on things I enjoy and appreciate the beautiful music being played for me by such talented musicians.

I am already planning my next trip to the Symphony. On October 28th they are playing Phantom of the Opera and it will be accompanied by the Concert Organ. There will be trick-or-treating, costume contests, street performers and more! Can’t wait!

To check out info. on the Coffee and Classics series and the many other events hosted by the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, click here.

Cheers!

It’s Finally Broadway Season!

Seeing shows on Broadway on random week nights, picking up last minute tickets, Broadway week, TKTS in Time Square, ticket lottery and seeing shows before they even open were all luxuries and benefits of living in Manhattan. Benefits that I miss SO much. Thankfully, Nashville has its own bit of Broadway (and no, not the one downtown). I’m talking about Broadway season. From September through May there are 8 Broadway shows coming to town at the fantastic Tennessee Performing Arts Center and I am stoked about this years line up!

BTW. Evita is no longer coming, but Camelot will be here in its place!
BTW. Evita is no longer coming, but Camelot will be here in its place!

Did you notice Book of Mormon is coming! (Good luck getting your tickets for that one. Seriously. Good luck. It’s awesome and you should all be trying to see it.)

mormon

Last night I got to experience the first show of the season, Once. I’ve seen Once, once, on Broadway, the year that it opened with the original cast. With that being said, I want you to know that the traveling cast is amazing. I was so impressed with the talent of the 13 actors on stage. It’s such an impressive musical. There is no orchestra. The cast plays string instruments and a piano on stage while acting, or sitting to the side. They sing, play, act and even dance (a bit). There is one set, no costume changes, few props and not even names for the main characters. The simplicity of the show is what makes it so intimate and impressive. How do they keep us captivated for 3 hours with such a simple show?

once

Talent. Phenomenal songs. And a tragic love story. That’s how.

I fell in love with this musical long before actually seeing it (or the movie). I heard the music first and was addicted. I have a “Once” Pandora station, which is fabulous BTW, and I can’t get enough of the soundtrack. There’s something so romantic and cozy about watching the actors play string instruments on stage and sing with such raw passion. There’s no computerized music or crazy effects, just pure talent.

love her so

The story takes place in Dublin (yay for cute guys with Irish accents). There is a busker who writes crazy good music, but wants to quit playing and singing because he girlfriend left him for NYC. Then there’s a hilariously blunt Czech girl who also happens to be a crazy talented musician who coincidentally finds the busker and decides to encourage him to keep singing and also get his girl back. The story follows these two as they play and sing together, encourage one another, fall for one another, discover a few secrets about each other and well…. I don’t want to ruin the end for you! It’s a beautiful story with really likable characters.

One of the coolest aspects about this particular play is that the set, which is a bar, runs like a real bar before the show begins and during intermission. You can actually walk on stage, order drinks, sit in a chair and walk around. What other Broadway show allows you to get that close to the set? They actually begin performing before the show begins, if that makes sense. It gives the impression that you are just at the local bar watching local musicians and a love story sort of unfolds before your eyes. It’s beautiful. Just trust me and go see it.

Once is playing at the TPAC from now until September 21st. You can purchase tickets here, and don’t forget to get your tickets for the upcoming shows as well. This is going to be a great season!

If you aren’t in the Nashville area than be sure to check out the tour schedule!

Cheers!

Puttin’ On Our Fancy Pants

Last weekend our Aunt Amy, the Blue Bird Aunt Amy, was honored with a very special award. She received the Frances Williams Preston Mentor Award from the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Pretty fancy, right? She invited us to attend the awards ceremony at Nashville’s new Music City Center, and we could not wait to get all dressed up and hit the town.

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meandzoey 22 weeks

I was a little worried about finding a formal outfit to go with my ever-growing bump, but I ended up having a lot of fun dressing me and the baby bump.

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My attempt at a French twist
My attempt at a French twist

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The ceremony began with the presentation of NSAI’s (Nashville Songwriter’s Association International) 2013 “The 10 Songs I Wish I’d Written”. This award went to some awesome songwriters who wrote the best country songs of the year. “Songwriter of the Year” went to none other than Taylor Swift. There were a ton of talented and well-known songwriters in attendance, but Taylor was definitely the most famous.

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Dinner was served, wine was drank, photos were taken and time ticked on as we anxiously awaited the highlight of our night. Finally, the time came and two hilarious and award-winning songwriters took the stage to honor Aunt Amy. The two men told stories of the famous Blue Bird and the owner that everyone knows and loves. They thanked her for her dedication to local songwriters. She not only supports their efforts, but has given them the perfect place to share their stories, practice their new songs, change their old songs and perform for a quiet and appreciative audience.

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lbd

After the touching speech, Amy was invited on stage to give a speech of her own. Now, I may be a little biased, but her speech (and the speech about her) were by far the most interesting and entertaining speeches of the night. She started her speech by thanking the congress men and women for attending, but then quickly asking them to get back to work in Washington once they finish their dinner. She also told the story of how her Father supported her and encouraged her to open up a café in Nashville, but gave her one piece of advice: “Do not play live music.”

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Everyone stood, cheered and hollered for Amy.  It could not have been a better night.

There were other awards and many songs performed throughout the night, but nothing seems worth writing about after Amy’s part.

Congratulations Aunt Amy, we love you!

aunt amy

Live on the Green

I have had a few days off from blogging, and even though I LOVE writing it is so difficult to get back into the swing of things! The fact that our Internet has been down since I woke up yesterday morning (thanks Comcast!) doesn’t help. Anyhow, my weekend was AWESOME!!!

On Thursday we (friends and whatnot) went to Live on the Green in downtown Nashville to see Michael Franti and Spearhead perform for FREE. Live on the Green is a series of free summer concerts held on Thursday nights at the Public Square Park. There are three performers each night, the last being the most popular, obviously.

I have loved Michael Franti for ages now, but have never had a chance to see him and Spearhead in concert. We got to the park at the beginning of the second act (The Delta Saints). They were great and we sat in our lounge chairs relaxing and eating Subway. The concert is surrounded by dozens of local food trucks, but we came prepared with drinks, sandwiches, chips and a dog.

The park was completely packed with local music lovers, hippies, families, puppies and surprisingly, people of all ages. One of the best parts of outdoor concerts are all the hula hoppers, poi ball swingers and hippie dancers. I don’t know what it is about concerts that bring out these unique talents, but it is so fun to watch.

As soon as Michael hit the stage the entire crowd got to their feet. Michael Franti and Spearhead is kind of like Jack Johnson in the sense that he sings about happiness, peach, good times, loving everyone and bringing people together. His music is a combo of hip-hop, reggae, jazz, folk and rock. I think everyone knows him best from “Say Hey”, but he’s been around for much longer and has much better songs.

Personally I love “Nobody Right, Nobody Wrong”. Its less dancey and fun, but such a good message. Michael is very involved in multiple charities and always finding ways to give back. He’s just an all-around impressive good person.

Everyone seemed to be having a blast as we all danced, swayed and sang along with the band. Towards the end of the concert, random people began walking around with giant trash bags and almost everyone instantly began helping and picking up all the trash around them. That is something I have never witnessed before.

It was a wonderful night and I have a feeling we’ll be back for more in the coming Thursdays. If you are in the Nashville area and wanting to check it out here is the site for Live on the Green and the schedule for the last few weeks. Have fun!

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Cheers!

Music City, AKA The Athens of the South

Now, you know that while my friend Sara was visiting we did some pretty adventurous stuff (of course), but we did some regular touristy sight-seeing stuff too. We like to give our guest a well-rounded experience.

Nashville is in the south after all, so eating some delicious fattening food is a must if you’re visiting. We took Sara to lunch at the Loveless Cafe. This very famous restaurant has been around for over sixty years and is known for its fried chicken and biscuits. It all began as a party house, owned by husband and wife, where travelers would stop on Highway 100 to dance on the living room hardwood floors, visit and eat the homemade preserves and biscuits that the wife made for all her visitors. It became so popular that they turned their home into a cafe and motel. Now, it’s famous for serving tourists from all over the world.

The Loveless Cafe's famous biscuits
The Loveless Cafe’s famous biscuits

steve and sara

We really wanted to treat Sara to Jack’s BBQ on Broadway in downtown Nashville, but sadly it was closed by the time we arrived and we settled for dinner across the street at Rippy’s Bar and Grill . Rippy’s has live music and good barbecue, but holy cow the service was HORRIBLE. We made up for it by ordering Jim-N-Nick’s take-out the next night.

Rippy's BBQ
Rippy’s BBQ

And, because I am pregnant and from Texas I insisted we stop for shaved ice at the only decent snocone stand in Nashville, Blue Monkey. Where I grew up there are snocone stands on every corner, and not the cheap ballpark snocones with big chunks of crushed ice and thin paper cones that drip. No sir, these snocones are little pieces of shaved ice heaven, with cream on top. I may have to take a break from writing to go pick one up…

Mmmm, nothing better than a snocone during the summer.
Mmmm, nothing better than a snocone during the summer.

Did I mention it rained every single day Sara was here? And, that it has also rained every single day since I have moved to Tennessee???

Anyways, between storms we spent a dreary wet afternoon walking through downtown Franklin. (I live in Franklin!) Downtown Franklin is one of those adorable little towns full of kitschy shops, unique boutiques, cafes, restaurants, a teeny theatre and a town square of course. Although the square is actually a circle, but whatever.

 

 

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Enjoying a day in the rain in downtown Franklin.
Enjoying a day in the rain in downtown Franklin.

Have you heard that Nashville is the “Athens of the South”. No? Well, I’m not surprised. Supposedly the exact replica of the Parthenon in our Centennial Park earned us that nickname. It’s a pretty big attraction, it also doubles as an art museum. Hey, if you can’t make it to Athens, you can at least make a trip to Nashville, right? eh?

 

parthenon

The entrance to the Parthenon
The entrance to the Parthenon

Finally, we took Sara to the most impressive piece of Nashville, the very famous Bluebird Cafe. Okay, okay, now I have to brag a bit on Husband’s Aunt. She, the cool woman she is, is actually the original owner and founder of the Bluebird. I’d try to describe this magical place to you, but the description on the website is so much better than my own…

The Bluebird Café is one of the world’s preeminent listening rooms and the venue has gained worldwide recognition as a songwriter’s performance space where the “heroes behind the hits” perform their own songs; songs that have been recorded by chart-topping artists in all genres of music.  Located in a small strip mall outside of downtown Nashville, the 90 seat venue is unassuming in appearance but some of the most significant songwriters and artists have performed on this stage. Our reputation as a listening room is based on the acoustic music that is our signature style.  Our patrons repeatedly tell us that they are captivated by hearing songs performed by the creators themselves.

Most of you have probably seen the Bluebird on the TV show, Nashville, but it’s even cooler than the show makes it seem. We had a blast at the “In the Round” where we got to watch three famous song writers share their hits and their favorite songs. My favorite part is listening to the writers tell stories of why they wrote each song, what inspired them and funny stories from their musical backgrounds.

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We definitely had the best table in the house.
We definitely had the best table in the house.
Two of the famous song writers in the round
Two of the famous song writers in the round

Okay, now seriously, who doesn’t want to visit Nashville? Good times are sure to be had.

Cheers!