"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.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Collage Time!

2012 Memories
Collage # 14 is done and another year is now "under glass."  2012 was a good one despite a few set-backs and missed opportunities due to Ashlee's mom's prolonged illness in the last quarter of the year.  We are happy to report she looks to be well on the road to recovery, and we can't wait to have her back home!

We saw a lot of great concerts this year including Mumford & Sons twice.  We found a great new music festival called Bunbury up in Cincinnati, and we returned again to our beloved Bonnaroo here in Middle Tennessee. We took some awesome trips this year including a 3-country tour in Europe (again) where we felt our first strong earthquake while in Milan, Italy; California (twice); the Outer Banks (again); Chicago (again); and tropical Aruba.  We saw an array of sporting events including playoff wins for our beloved pro hockey team, the Nashville Predators, the U.S. men's soccer team, pro and college football, and pro baseball in two different cities.  We had some great food at some wonderful new restaurants during our travels as well. 

2013 is already looking to be promising with planned trips to Jamaica for New Year's, China (yes, China) in February, and Colorado in early March for some snowshoeing.  We also have a possible first-time visit to the city of Pittsburgh and then on to Mt. Rushmore in the planning stages as well as a possible return to the Indy 500 in May, and a possible music cruise in November.  We already have a few concerts we are planning to attend including our beloved Augustana in an acoustic show, Gaslight Anthem in a more intimate venue than we've ever seen them before, and another run at Bonnaroo in June. 

A special thanks to all our friends who have joined us this past year for many of our endeavors. We appreciate your camaraderie and enthusiasm in everything we do. 

Now, as long as the Mayans aren't right, let's proceed in filing up our next collage!

Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

OK, now....Let's hear It for the boys...

November 5, 2012 - We caught another show by one of our favorites, Snow Patrol, at the Ryman Auditorium (this is the second time we have seen them there) tonight along with co-headliner, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, and opener, Jake Bugg.  It was a good Irish and British invasion  of Nashville all around.

November 17, 2012 - We attended the UT vs. Vandy college football game in Nashville tonight.
Great seats, eh? Just 7 rows off the field! It was a  41-18 shellacking by Vandy of the once-proud Vols.
  It was OK by us since we were pulling for the Dores who were already bowl eligible
 and increased their chances for a better bowl with this win.
This also turned out to be embattled UT Head Coach Derek Dooley's
(white shirt, right center) last game before being fired the next day.
December 1, 2012 - We caught another show by one of our regional faves, The Dirty Guv'nahs, at Track 29 in Chattanooga tonight along with openers, The Black Cadillacs, from Nashville, and Shark Week from Chattanooga.  Another excellent show by The Guvs who never fail to impress us with their energy and passion.  Thanks to our friends Mike (who also met us for dinner beforehand at the always-delicious Terminal Brewhouse), Michelle and Debra for hanging with us at the show.  In the photo above, members of The Black Cadillacs join The Guvs on stage for a closing cover of the appropriately-named Beatles/Joe Cocker staple, "With a Little Help From My Friends."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Let's hear it for the girls...

It's been all about the ladies recently for us.  Most importantly, Ashlee's mom, Evelyn, who has been on a long recovery over the past six weeks from an aortic tear in her heart.  Her serious medical condition has required us to miss a few shows and events we had planned together over the last month or so, but we were able to squeeze in a few things from some other special ladies during that time.

We caught the second show of Grace Potter & the Nocturnals' two-night-stand at the beautiful
Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on Saturday, October 13th.  With our friend, Wayne,
 we had awesome front-row balcony seats that gave us a great view of the 2-hour-plus show.

We were fortunate enough to get a chance to meet Doris Roberts
of "Everyone Loves Raymond" fame as she spoke to volunteers at Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga during Evelyn's recovery.  She was in Chattanooga for a seniors active-living convention and stopped by the hospital during her first-ever visit to the city.  Thanks to the staff at Memorial for letting us crash the party.

We returned to the Ryman Auditorium on Friday, October 26, to catch another great lady of music, Alanis Morrisette, who hasn't toured in a few years, but you couldn't tell that from the energy she showed on stage (see a small part of that in the video below).  Our 9th-row main floor seats were a perfect vantage point for the show that was packed full of her past hits (hear that, Jackson Browne, it's OK to play your hits!!) as well as new songs off her latest album.  Our great seats were a far cry better than what we had the last time we saw her a long way from the stage in the general admission grass at the now-defunct Starwood Amphitheatre (RIP, old friend) many pre-blog years ago.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lordy, Lordy, Look Who's....in NorCal for Her Birthday!

Ashlee's 40th birthday was on the horizon and to celebrate, we headed out to San Francisco and other parts of Northern California for week of fun with a gaggle of our friends from all over the place for different amounts of time throughout:

Saturday, Sept. 1 - We flew out of Nashville with a pretty good fare to San Francisco on Frontier Airlines with our friend, Brenda.  Meeting us at the San Fran airport were our friends, Mike from Chattanooga, and Amy and Jeremy from New Hampshire.  Arriving before all of us was our friend, Rex from Atlanta.  Our friend, Wayne, who is also from Nashville would arrive late the next day to complete our eightsome (sp?) after running a half marathon in Virginia Beach (impressive!).

The upstairs view from the 4-bedroom house we rented was nice.

The fog that San Fran is famous for found us on our first morning there.
After settling into our rental house on Masonic Avenue we ambled a few blocks and found the Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery for dinner.  The place was hopping but they were able to accommodate our large group rather quickly and we had a great meal and a few libations to celebrate our long journeys westward.

Our rental house was just a few blocks from the famous psychedelic corner of Ashbury & Haight, an iconic area of the free-love movement and the hippie lifestyle.  It struck us kind of funny that in the shops along Haight Street which were celebrating simple living and a desire to get away from all things corporate and capitalistic, they still had bluejeans for sale for $145.  Gonna have to sell a lot of flower-necklaces to make that purchase.  Our favorite breakfast spot on Haight turned out to be the hilariously-named, Squat & Gobble, which is exactly what we did there a couple of different mornings.

Sunday, Sept. 2 - We spent the day in the city today with an afternoon gourmet food tour being the only scheduled thing on the agenda.   While waiting on the tour to begin in the Hayes Valley area (a mile or so from our house), we found a great "portable" beer garden (aptly named Biergarten) where the bar is located inside a shipping container.  It's one of several "proxy projects" in the fast-developing area that may or may not be there in the future.  We sure hope it still is when we return someday because it is a perfect place to hang out.

On our way to our food tour we stopped in Alamo Park
for a great view of "The Painted Sisters" row houses
and downtown behind them.  Remember this shot from
the TV show, "Full House"?

The Day One Group huddling in a neat sculpture garden  before our food tour.

An $80 box of chocolates from the Christopher Elbow Shop, one of the 7 stops on our gourmet food tour.

The one place not on the food tour that was recommended by our guide was Smuggler's Cove, a kind of secret bar nearby with a very plain exterior and a funky, 3-level, tiki-bar interior.  Their drinks were very good and Ashlee's "Volcano" was among the most amazing of them.

Monday, Sept. 3 - We spent Labor Day "laboring" the day away in a limo tour to Napa Valley and Sonoma with visits to Cakebread Vineyards, V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena for lunch, Schramsberg Vineyards and Caves, and finally Cline Winery.  When we got back to San Fran we all had a great dinner with our friend, Roman, and his wife at NOPA - a wondeful restaurant in the NOrthern PAnhandle area.

An unscheduled but amazing first stop on our limo tour was right
across San Francisco Bay to see The Golden Gate Bridge starting
to emerge from the fog.  A great start to a great day!
A Napa view from inside our limo

First stop:  Cakebread Cellars, Napa Valley

A little dust on the bottles inside Schramsberg's aging caves
 Tuesday, Sept. 4 - We loaded up the entire "Full House" of eight people into a rented Yukon and headed on a long road trip to Yosemite National Park today.  It was worth the trip as the weather was perfect, the company was great and we hopefully avoided the dreaded hantavirus that had plagued (literally) the park earlier in the summer.  It was worth the time and the risk to see this American jewel.

Windmill field on the way to Yosemite
The winding road to Yosemite from San Francisco
Our first look at Yosemite was one of the best with El Capitan (left),
and Half Dome (center) soaring into the beautiful skies.
El Capitan, the largest granite monolith in the world.
Bridalveil Falls at late summer/early fall level.

Wednesday, Sept. 5 - It was another day in the city with only another food tour (this time in Japantown) scheduled for five of us.  Sadly, we had to bid Rex a fond farewell as he headed back home today. 

After the great food tour, we snagged some amazingly-cheap, last-minute baseball tickets ($2.22 each!) to see the San Francisco Giants play the Arizona Diamondbacks at beautiful AT&T Field tonight.  It was a beautiful night for a game with mild temps.  The food at the ballpark was exceptional and I guess we made up for the money we saved on the tickets with all the snacks we bought.  (Editor note:  October 2012 - We went and saw one pro baseball team play this year and we will be danged if they didn't go and get themselves in the World Series, and then win it in a sweep!  Congrats Giants!) We followed that up with some after-game bowling at the ultra-cool Lucky Strike Bowling Center near the stadium.

A delicious Japanese snack called onigilly (rice balls wrapped in seaweed).

A beautiful rainbow appeared on our way to the baseball park.

AT&T Park is a jewel of a place nestled right on the SF Bay.

Our seats were very good, especially given the fact we paid less than $2.50 for them!

The abandoned nachos and stray popcorn clean-up crew after the game.
Jeremy's score should have an asterisk by it...that's all I am saying.

Thursday, Sept. 6 - Another great day in the city that started with all seven of us taking a bike ride from Pier 33, across the Golden Gate Bridge and down to the beautiful town of Sausilito where we had lunch and then took the ferry back across the bay.  We hung around the piers the rest of the day and five of us took an Alcatraz night tour.  Ashlee gave her ticket up to Wayne who have never been before and wasn't able to get a seat on the sold-out tour. She and Brenda did some shopping and coconut-macaron (not macaroon) tasting instead (evidently they are as big as your hand!).

The crowded Golden Gate Bridge, even on a weekday, but what a great ride!

Friday, Sept. 7 - And then there were four.  We said goodbye to Brenda, Amy and Jeremy, who all headed home today.  The final four rented another car and headed south to the town of Mountain View (home to Google, by the way) to catch a concert by Linkin Park and Incubus at the Shoreline Amphitheatre. Before heading out of town we hooked up with our friend, Roman, again and had a tasty brunch at Q Restaurant and Wine Bar near our rental house.  Thanks again to the Food Network TV show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, for another excellent recommendation!
You don't really have to "search" to find Google Street in tiny Mountain View, CA

Linkin Park doing what they do best and doing it live.

Saturday, Sept. 8 - Time to part ways.  I headed home, as did Wayne and Mike.  Ashlee was off to Portland, OR, for a day of fun before continuing north to Spokane, WA for work conference the following week.
The whole gang from L to R - Ashlee, Rex, Brenda, Wayne, Mike, me, Amy and Jeremy.
Thanks for all the fun and laughs everyone and Happy Birthday, Ashlee!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Horses, Titans, Lillies and the Boys of Summer

We put a few more memorable events under our belts over the last week or so that are worth noting:
Hello again, new friends.

Farewell, old friend.
Friday, August 17, 2012 - Rarely do we go to a music show just to see the opener(s) but that's just what we did tonight as we caught a local Nashville-based band we have seen before (also as an opener) and really liked.  A Thousand Horses were at 12th & Porter opening for The Jompson Brothers.  They were spot-on and sound better every time we see them.  Thanks to our friends, Danny and Brenda, for also checking them out with us.  Another Nashville-based band we like, The Cadillac Black, were also playing, but we had to miss their set due to conflicting plans.  Beforehand,  the four of us had dinner at one of favorite independent restaurants in town, Rumba, which is sadly closing its doors at the end of September on West End Avenue after 10 years in business.  Ashlee and I parted ways after the music show with me going with Danny to catch a late showing of "The Bourne Legacy" along with his and Brenda's youngest son, Kyle; while Ashlee and Brenda headed over to The Belcourt Theater for a midnight showing of that goofy musical movie classic, "Xanadu."  Women...?

The North End Zone Titantron
Thursday, August 23, 2012 - Our friend, Wayne, invited us to a Tennessee Titans preseason game vs. the Arizona Cardinals tonight.  While we are not the biggest fans of football games that don't count, it was a chance to check out the vast new improvements at LP Field including the two huge "Titantrons" looming over each end zone with incredible high-def TV projection (the screens are almost too big and too perfect, making it  very hard to watch the actual game on the field!), express elevators to the top level (super fast!) and a booming new sound system (super loud!).  We had dinner beforehand at the always great Drifters BBQ over in East Nashville.  Thanks to Wayne for the tickets and the fun times (which always count in our opinion).  And yes, for those of you keeping score of preseason games (but why?), the Titans did "win."

18 years and growing
Saturday, August 25, 2012 - We headed back down to Chattanooga for the weekend and another attendance of the Southern Brewers Festival in Chattanooga.  We were excited to see that one of our favorite regional bands, The Black Lillies, who we just saw in Bristol recently, were on slate of bands playing during the day-long festival. 

We were fortunate enough to stay right beside the festival held downtown on the Tennessee River on the beautiful boat owned by our friends, Tiff and Brenda.  Another highlight of the day was watching the team from Goodlettsville, TN, in the American Championship Game of the Little League World Series on TV.  The Tennessee boys won in extra innings in a crazy see-saw of a game over another team from California.  Thanks to our friend, Mike, for joining us for the game viewing and the beer festival. 

Our lodging for the night.  Thanks Capt. Tiff and 1st Mate Brenda!
The Black Lillies opened the day of music on the beautiful
 Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga.
Our view of the Little League World Series from the outdoor seating
at the Blue Plate Bar in downtown Chattanooga.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bristol Stopover

We attended our second brand new music festival of the year(Bunbury in Cincinnati being the first) this past weekend hosted by none other than our favorite new band on the music scene in the last few years, Mumford & Sons.  Their day-long music festival is called "The Gentlemen of the Road" tour and the closest of the mere four "stop overs" it was making in the U.S. this summer was in Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee, so we grabbed tickets when they went on sale before it SOLD OUT in a brief amount of time and planned a long weekend up to the northeast corner of our state.

Friday, August 10, 2012:  We hopped in our new black 2012 Honda Accord and proceeded to take it on its first real road trip
as we headed eastward.  We stopped for a late lunch in Knoxville to use a Groupon we had bought for a beer and cheese flight at Cafe 11,  a newly-opened European-style coffee house (that also serves beer, hence the European influence) on Gay Street in the city's historically restored downtown area.
The place was really quiet for a Friday afternoon as the school year at nearby UTK doesn't start until next week.  We became fast friends with the owner, Mustafa, since we were the only ones in the place at times and he was gracious enough to whip us up a cheese board even though the Groupon was meant to only be used after 5 P.M.  We grabbed three craft beers as well and had a nice relaxing break from the 4-hour drive to Bristol from our home.  We bid Mustafa farewell and wished him the best on his new endeavor, hoping it does well enough for us to visit him again sometime

Maybe so, but definitely a good place to visit.

As part of the Mumford & Sons weekend, the city was putting on some
pre-festival activities as well including a classic car show up and down
State Street.  Many of the quaint downtown shops were open as well
and the art galleries were giving out free wine samples!

Saturday, August 11:  The music festival didn't start until 2 PM, so we lazily slept in and relaxed around the Doubletree hotel room over in nearby Johnson City.  We had about a 20-minute drive back to Bristol and we headed out a little after noon to grab some lunch before the fun started. 

We strolled back down State Street and decided to eat at  the famous (or infamous - it seems it's the last place Hank Williams was seen alive??) Burger Bar.  The place is tiny and we were lucky enough to grab a couple seats at the bar itself and have a couple of delicious made-when-you-order-it cheeseburgers combos.

Tiny Bristol was an obvious place for their  music festival for music lovers like Mumford & Sons given the long history in music here including the fact that it, not Nashville, is the true birthplace of country music.

The crowds were big with a SOLD OUT maximum of 17,500 tickets sold.

The first set of the day on the smaller of two stages, was one of the best performances of the festival in our opinion, and a great new musical discovery for us, was Simone Felice (far right) and his outstanding  band, joined here with "Big" Mike Harris of Nashville's own, Apache Relay, who played the bigger stage later in the day.  At another show at this same stage with the band, Haim, we had a personal thrill of seeing and meeting, James Trimble, lead singer of one of our favorite regional bands, The Dirty Guv'nahs who was taking in the music festival with his fiancee'.

The "big stage" was just that.  The weather couldn't have been much better.  The line-up was great all day with a few bands we had seen before and like (The Apache Relay, Dawes and, of course, Mumford & Sons ) and a few acts we've been wanting to see play live like Justin Townes Earles on stage in the photo above.

Mumford & Sons were awesome, as usual.  Several of their new songs off their upcoming and long-awaited sophomore album called "Babel" sounded great live.  They finished their encore by bringing all the artists who had played throughout the day up on stage for a raucous cover of Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel."
There was even a free after party show at the Mural Stage just off State Street by another band we are growing fond of called The Black Lillies, a dandy groove-grass band out of Knoxville that we've seen a few times.
Sunday, August 12, 2012 - We had nowhere to be but home today, so we slept in again and headed out around noon heading back southwest toward Knoxville.  Our only real destination was a late lunch at Pizza Palace, an East Knoxville tradition for over 50 years.  Yes, Italian's in their name, but onion rings are also their game and served with a spaghetti-sauce dipping cup - delicious!  Thanks again to the wonderful Food Network TV show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives for scouting this place out for us that we would probably have never stopped at otherwise.