"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Wine on Martin Avenue

Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008 Well, we had quite the soiree this weekend at our house as we hosted The Nashville Wine Enthusiasts Meet-up. We had around 30 people show up from around the area including several new members to the group that were attending their first function. It was a pleasant surprise to see so many people honor their online RSVPs and make the long trek out to Lebanon to spend their Saturday night. The meet-up theme was "Wines of Australia" which was a natural fit for us to present since we just got back from our wonderful trip "Down Under" that included tours of two of their larger wine regions, the Hunter and Barossa valleys. We had a vast array of different reds and whites to sample. Final count Sunday morning was approximately 16 dead soldiers (i.e. wine bottles). We also had some tasty food that Ashlee prepared including the very popular white chicken chili. The weather was perfectly mild allowing the party to flow outside onto the back patio late into the night. The party got several positive reviews on the meet-up website the following day which means we might just have to host one of these again...maybe after a trip to France or Peru?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Falling Slowly" for Glen and Marketa

Who says there are no bad seats at the Ryman? Well, there are if you are on the main floor and stuck behind one of the support columns for the balcony, and have to sway from side to side to see the performers. NOTE TO SELVES: Don't buy any more Z Row tickets at the Ryman. In fact, if you can't get in the first 15 rows, then choose the balcony.
Thank goodness for the superb acoustics. Despite the sore necks from craning around the historic pole we saw The Swell Season which is made up of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, put on a tremendous show with many of their songs from the movie, Once, including last year's Oscar winner, "Falling Slowly" and some great new ones as well. Glen was funny, energetic and humble on-stage and Marketa was a bit shy and focused....which was exactly how we saw them so many months ago at Bonnaroo when we caught the last half of their show and were so impressed we made it a point to seek them out again. It was well worth the hunt and the wait.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

NASHVILLE STAYCATION 2008: $20 for Dinner and "A Penny for the Band"

Saturday, September 20, 2008 - Nashville, TN
We took advantage once more of the $20.08 prix fixe menus offered around Nashville this week with dinner at Mirror Restaurant with our friend, Carolyn. Excellent meal, huge portions and a white chocolate "soup" for dessert. Don't knock it until you try it. We then ambled back over to Flyte Restaurant for another flight of sparkling wines and a delicious plate of cheeses (yes, we were stuffed, but it's cheese!). We asked for Joseph again, our waiter from Thursday night, and he was happy to oblige us in the dining room even though we were only there to drink and nibble. We tried our best to close down the place, but then headed out about 10:30 PM for a cab ride over to The (Famous?) Station Inn in The Gulch for a late-night showcase set by Justin Rutledge as part of The Americana Music Festival going on around Nashville. Justin is a young singer/songerwriter from Toronto that we saw last year with Rob's favorite band, Blue Rodeo, at this same festival. The Station Inn is a tiny little place that only serves bottled beer (that's right, it's basically a beer joint) with a small stage and scattered chairs and tables. We were a little skeptical about acoustics and such, but with front-row seats and the new smoking ban in Tennessee those worries all fell away when Justin took the stage, plugged in and did his thing. His style of music is best described by what he said on stage a few songs in to the set..."As you can see, I play two kinds of songs...slow and slower." His ballads are full of strong and intelligent imagery, his voice is pure and clear, and his accompanying rhythm guitarist was simply a virtuoso. Carolyn, who was a little skittish about going with us and had never heard of him, liked Justin's performance enough to buy his new album, Man Descending, which includes the beautifully crafted song "A Penny for the Band." Justin was kind enough to chat with us a few minutes after his set and then sign both copies of his CD that we had bought.
After dropping Carolyn at her house in nearby Green Hills we had our cabbie drop us at the new Hilton downtown (did we miss Bob Dylan at The Cannery? That was the rumor our cab-mate was following, but it was late, we were tired and frankly we don't care that much about Bob Dylan). The Hilton is where we spent the rest of our "Staycation" thanks to some more frequent-stay points from Ashlee's work as we wait for gas to be shipped to our area....long lines and/or no gas available...where are we? in Russia? Oh well, we just rolled with it and didn't let it stop our enjoyment of some great food, beverages and music along the way.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hootie, Flighty, Fresh and Fruity

A nice Thursday evening in downtown Nashville was had thanks to two separate events that we were able to mingle together nicely. First was an early dinner reservation at the restaurant, Flyte, to take advantage of their participation in The First Annual Restaurant Week for Nashville Originals. The Nashville Originals are a large group of local Nashville restaurants which offered special prix fixe 3-course menus this week for only $20.08 (get it). We have been wanting to eat at Flyte for quite a while and this seemed like a great opportunity...and was it ever! Delicious food, incredible wine selection (over 150 choices by the glass), beautiful and spacious dining area and a large, cool bar. Our waiter, Joseph, was incredibly friendly, knowledgeable and professional. Thanks to the great meal price, we were able to settle on a fairly pricey bottle of verdelho wine from Australia (still hung-over from our trip I guess). It was very smooth and went nicely with both our entrees (Asian shrimp for Rob and pork carnitas for Ashlee). Dessert was a delicious chocolate mousse that we chased with a "flight" (get it) of sparkling wines and champagnes chosen by Joseph who promised something "fun." Nice choices, sir. After dinner we eased over a few blocks to Music Row and were able to find decent parking fairly close to Capitol Record's Pub Crawl 2 - a free concert out on Demonbreun Street featuring a quartet of their stable of recording artists. Even though they were all "country" artists and not our favorite genre, we arrived just in time to catch "Hootie" himself, Darius Rucker, of Hootie & the Blowfish fame who has released a solo country album. His first single, "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" is currently # 1 on the country charts. Congats, Hootie!! The song is pretty damn good and Darius sounded great live and did not disappoint his fans of the past with a closing number of "Only Want to Be With You." Big, literally and figuratively, country artist Trace Adkins closed the show and despite his unique baritone voice we only stayed for a few songs before heading back home since it was a work day tomorrow. Not sure why they call this event a "Pub Crawl" since the music is outside and not in pubs...we would prefer "Demonbreun Throwdown" or something but hey, it's their party, so whatever. Just keep up the good times next year!

Monday, September 1, 2008

"It Was a Total Barf-O-Rama"

Sunday, August 31st - Brisbane/Gold Coast, Australia - blogged from the LAX airport on Monday, Sept. 1st.
Yes, the quote was stolen from the classic movie, Stand By Me, but it sure did describe a good portion of our last full vacation day in Australia. The "barf-o-rama" we are speaking of occured on the whale-watching tour we took down off of Australia's Gold Coast about a half-hour south of Brisbane. The participants of this "barf-o-rama" were a large percentage of the 40 or so folks on the boat as it entered some pretty choppy water a few miles out. 50% of our group were also affected mainly because Ashlee was on the lower deck when the "barf-o-rama" began and the sights and sounds of it set her off briefly, but then she was quickly fine. That was not the case for 20 or so Asians on board who seem to have been hit the hardest including the five young girls who rode down with us on the shuttle bus from Brisbane. They were all chipper and laughing when getting on the boat, but started feeling the affects before we were even out of the harbor.
The captain was a real professional and actually did a great job of avoiding some huge swells that would have rocked us even more than it did. The whales were a little hard to find at first and we did see a few from a distance, but again the professional captain did a great job of finding a couple of small pods and getting us pretty close to them for a nice intimate encounter. These beautiful gray humpbacks were part of hundreds in migration currently in the Australian waters right now heading north to south as the waters grow warmer for them and breeding season approaches. The 3+ hour tour also gave us stunning views of the Gold Coast /Surfer's Paradise area with it's towering new high-rises and million-dollar canal houses. The area reminded us a lot of Ft. Lauderdale which has a similar beach-highrise condo-canals with houses topography. The afternoon was spent washing the ocean off of us, resting up and packing for our trip home tomorrow. We did get to slip across the river and ride the big new ferris wheel which was pricey (par for Australia) and only about half the size of the London Eye we were told....wow, can't wait to experience that.