"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.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memor-able Day Weekend

We took a quick Memorial Day Weekend road trip up to Louisville, Kentucky, with our friends, Nate and Ginny and had a great time. We hit the road mid-morning on Saturday and our first stop was about an hour out of Nashville in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to the tiny Corsair Distillery located just off the town square. Corsair produces a pretty good line of spirits including an interesting Vanilla Bean Vodka and a Pumpkin Spice Moonshine. They recently opened a second distilling location in Nashville and we wanted to check out their original facility since we were in the neighborhood. We got a private tour of the small facility and it was very interesting. We wish them all the luck in the endeavors. We stopped at a great little sports bar called Double Dog Chow House for lunch. Excellent food and atmosphere.
Our second stop was a bit farther out of the way, but it was worth the drive with some beautiful scenery along the way. It was the Abbey of Gethsemani near Bardstown. It's the largest active monastery in the U.S. The grounds and buildings are immaculate and we stopped in their gift shop to get some handmade bourbon fudge and French-style cheese that they are known for producing and shipping world-wide.
We got on into Louisville after that and checked into our rooms at The Galt House Hotel right on the Ohio River in downtown. This stylish old hotel had a great rate thanks again to Travelocity's Top Secret Hotel finder that we used in Atlanta a month or so ago. We had a room overlooking the river on a holiday weekend Saturday night (during a huge Beatles-tribute convention going on at the hotel as well) for $80 - not too shabby!
We caught a cab for a quick ride to where we had dinner reservations: The White Oak Restaurant. We picked The White Oak for a couple of different reasons: a great menu that included many items locally grown as well as vegetarian dishes (for Ginny) and the fact we had a Groupon for $20 off dinner. Like the Travelocity Top Secret Hotel finder, Groupons (groupon.com) are another great money-saver for the budget traveler. After dinner our same taxi driver, Floyd, took us over to the Brown Theatre for our concert. We were there to see The Swell Season for a third time. This great Irish & Czech folk duo are one of our favorites. Before the show we had a few minutes to slip over to the Bluegrass Brewing Company Brewpub for a pre-show drink. This Louisville-based microbrewer puts out some really great beer. The show was excellent and the Brown Theatre could not be a nicer venue - great site-lines and perfect acoustics. After the show we did a bit of bar-hopping on our way back to the hotel in the pedestrian-only area known as 4th Street Live. We stopped at the Maker's Mark Lounge and the Ri Ra Irish Pub before winding up at Al J's Lounge back at The Galt House's Conservatory.
The next morning we slept in a bit and got up in time to check-out and head over to the other (and original) location of the Bluegrass Brewing Company Brewpub. They opened at 11 AM for lunch....but couldn't serve their award-winning beer until 1 PM thanks to a antiquated Kentucky law. Well, at least the food was great, but we didn't have to time to wait around on the beer since The Bourbon Trail was calling us. Our first stop along the winding roads that lead to more than a half-dozen well-know distilleries in central Kentucky was Jim Beam. The place was beautiful and they were open but....in Bullitt County, Kentucky, no alcohol can be served on Sundays, so no sampling. Oh well, we were 0-2 in terms of libations vs. Sunday ordinances. The friendly lady at the reception desk told us to head over to Heaven Hill Distillery because it was in a different county and they did serve on Sundays. Heaven Hill turned out to be a great find. They make Evan Williams Bourbon Whiskey as well as a few others and they have a beautiful facility including a fairly large and new welcome center called the Bourbon Heritage Center. We got a great free tour along with a couple of samples in their tasting room shaped like a bourbon barrel.
Maker's Mark has a beautiful facility nearby that we have been to before but were willing to go to again to for Nate and Ginny, but we had already missed the last tour of the day. Maybe next time. We stopped for one last nip before hitting the road home at the quaint-looking Old Talbott Tavern and Bourbon Bar in scenic Bardstown, Kentucky, but it turned out to be a bit of a dive when you went inside the place. But, the beer was cold and the bourbon was flowing if you wanted it, so it's probably all in the eye of the beholder.
We dropped Nate and Ginny off at their place in Nashville and we had planned on continuing south and spending the night in Scottsboro, Alabama, to take a hot-air balloon ride the next morning as part of our wedding anniversary, but Mother Nature was not complying and a call to our pilot, Richard, confirmed there would be no flight tomorrow morning. We would have to postpone. Disappointing to say the least, but at least we can reschedule. We headed east instead toward home and got to sleep in our own bed that night.
Monday was Memorial Day and despite not getting to do our balloon flight, we still had plans to meet our friend, Emily, in Lynchburg, Tennessee, to visit the Jack Daniel's Distillery - time for a little compare and contrast. Call us biased, call us homers, call us bourbon-haters but Tennessee sippin' whiskey is soooo much smooooother than bourbon, and Mr. Daniel did it right. What a beautiful place also. Our tour guide, Buddy, was tremendous and the free hour-long behind-the-scenes tour is well worth the visit. Incredible history surrounds this place and the story of "little" Jack Daniel is truly amazing. This distillery famously sits in a dry county so there would be no sampling of anything more than tame lemonade, but they are now able to at least sell their product (except on Sundays) at the distillery. We bought a beautiful bottle of Woodlands Commemorative to take with us. After a little walking tour of the quaint downtown square of Lynchburg, we ambled back to Emily's house in the nearby and also-very-quaint town of Bell Buckle where we cooked out, played some corn-hole toss and created our own kind of very untamed Bell Buckle Lemonade.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Not bad for a Tuesday night...

We decided sort of last-minute to go check out Butch Walker & the Black Widows at Exit/In last night in Nashville, and it was well worth the effort. We first saw Butch & Co. open for Train at The Ryman a month or so ago (see earlier blog). They really blew us away and almost stole the show. It was definitely one of the best opening acts we've ever seen. Butch has a great voice and a tremendous amount of energy on stage. His original songs are solid in melody and sharp in lyrics. We figured if they were that good as an opener, then they should be tremendous as the headliner. And, we were rignt on the money. They played non-stop rock-n-roll for two solid hours and we didn't get home until close to 1 AM this morning. Definitely a good time for a "school night." We haven't been to the Exit/In for several years now (in fact it was to see Train the last time we were there) and we forgot what a great venue it is. Lots of general admission standing room, good sight lines and excellent acoustics. They have been doing it right here since 1971 and the list of performers who have graced their stage is truly amazing (see photo above to see just a few of them). It was definitely a nice reprieve from our previously rotten live music experience at 3rd & Lindsley (make that The-Now-Boycotted 3rd & Lindsley - see previous blog entry). The place was packed for a Tuesday night and there seems to be a pretty big underground following for Butch who has been creating and producing great music for many years now. Plus his live shows are epic and always full of surprises including his late-into-the-set wade into the middle of the crowd (photo below). A lot of the folks sang along to the music despite the fact that Butch's music seldom gets radio airplay. It was also a respectful crowd with limited talkng during the quieter numbers when it was just Butch and his piano. Thanks, Exit/In-ers, for the respect because that's not always the case during live performances even in "Music City."
Thanks also to our friend, Nate, for being a good sport and tagging along with us despite not knowing anything about BW & the BW. He too was impressed by the show and is now a fan.

Monday, May 17, 2010

"Hey, (Ms.) Potter, please don't go..."...to 3rd & Lindsley

Well, it's official - we love Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and we absolutely hate 3rd & Lindsley as a music venue. This was our third visit to the place and the experience just doesn't get any better. You have to get there two hours before the show just to get a seat since the place is so small and it only has tables right up to the stage, no "offical" standing area. The tables near the stage are almost always reserved and unavailable. The acoustics are good but the sight lines any farther back than those first few tables are bad and the layout of the place is just awful and not worth the trouble anymore no matter who is playing there. And it's too bad because the place books a lot of great acts, but unfortunately we probably won't ever be back. We figure if the performer we want to see is playing there then they are also probably playing in a nearby city that we can drive to and have a better experience. On a more positive note GP&N were terrific as usual (this is the fourth time we have seen them) in the their performance for local radio station, Lightning 100's, Sunday Night Live simulcast. Our new friends, John and Monique, met us there for dinner and drinks beforehand, and we all had a good time despite our blocked vantage point of the stage (i.e. people standing where they are not "officially" supposed to be) during some of the performance. On an even more postivie note we just learned that Grace & Co. will be playing one of our favorite festivals, Bele Chere, in Asheville, NC, this year. Hoo-ray!!! We were going anyway no matter who played, but this news makes it all the better. See you in late July, Miss Potter!