— Feathers and Wax

Blues, biscuits and a birthday in Nashville

Fred and I have gotten kind of addicted to taking small trips to celebrate our birthdays. This year we went to Marfa for his, and last year we went to New Orleans for mine.

So when Fred was able to get a few days off in June we went for it and booked flights to Nashville.

This was our second visit to Nashville, but I was even more excited for this trip because our first trip there was taken up mostly by watching the roller derby championships tournament, so we didn’t get as much time to sight-see or even see any live music (gasp, I know).

What I’ll remember most from this trip is that perfectly crisp, crunchy spice of that hot chicken sandwich, the bright Tennessee sun shining down on us the whole time we were there, the grinding bluesey edge of that band that made me stomp my feet and yell out, being in the same recording studio as Elvis, Dolly, Willie and the Everly Brothers, and of course: perfectly executed biscuits. Can’t leave Nashville without having some of those first.

But probably what I’ll hold dearest in my memory of this trip was an art show we attended, almost at the last minute. At one point I picked up a free copy of the city’s alternative press magazine Native and read its cover story. I was shocked to realize that the woman on the cover was Jesse Zazu of Those Darlins, a band that I saw play years ago and fell in love with. They went on hiatus a while later but I never found out why.

Jesse has an aggressive form of cancer. She has turned to painting to get her through it, and was hosting an opening while we were there. I told Fred we had to go.

I’ll admit that it was tough seeing Jesse in person, so changed from chemo and illness. It was impossible not to compare her current state with her vivacious, charismatic stage presence. During her shows she’d often make eye contact with people out in the crowd, and stare intensely while delivering her lyrics.

But it was reassuring to see how happy she was, and how packed the place was, with so many people there to support her. We could barely move around each room, it was so full of folks. And her art! The paintings were all so colorful and bright and beautiful, and I certainly see a glimmer of the Jesse I saw onstage in every one of them.

I’m so happy we got to spend a little of our trip supporting her. Best of luck to Jesse on fighting this fight. I know she’s got it in her, and lots of people have her back, too.

Where we went: RCA Studio B |  Hattie B’s | Barista Parlor | Jackalope Brewing Company | Rolf and Daughters | The High Watt at Mercy Lounge | Pinewood Social | Hatch Show Print | Imogene + Willie | High Class Hillbilly | Dino’s | Julia Martin Gallery | Our Airbnb

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