"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, February 28, 2012

Bluegrass Underground

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Today we attended Day 3 of the taping of the PBS television show "Bluegrass Underground" which takes place 333 feet below ground in the Volcano Room of Cumberland Caverns in McMinnville, TN.  What a cool concept and experience!

The Sunday afternoon performance was SOLD OUT.
There was plenty of seating not only in folding chairs, but all around the cave
on stones and ledges.  They also have bathrooms and a concession stand in this
unique set-up that's been going on since 2008.
First up were, The Vespers, a young quartet out of Nashville who were very good.
Next up were The Black Lillies out of Knoxville.  We had seen these guys
briefly at Bonnaroo a few years ago.  They were quite enjoyable.
Next up was one our favorite bands to see live (and how we found out about this event),
Scott Miller and the Commonwealth, out of Knoxville.  Scott's band, the Commonwealth, was
"bluegrassified" a bit with a stand-up bass and a fiddle player which was a new twist for us, but
sounded just as good, if not better than the many times we have seen them before.  Unfortunately,
due to time constraints and other obligations, we had to depart before the last set from The Jerry
Douglas Band.  Yes, that Jerry Douglas of Alison Krauss & Union Station fame.
We hated to miss the last band, but we had RSVPed to an Oscar Party that night held annually by our friends, Danny and Brenda, and we didn't want to be late since we had a long drive from McMinnville over to Brentwood on the other side of Nashville.  But, we definitely got our money's worth with the three bands we did see in such a unique venue.  They do a show about once a month here and we will definitely be back again when we get the chance.  Speaking of The Oscars, we were happy to catch this year's Best Picture "The Artist" in Chattanooga the night before with our friends, Mike and Elizabeth.  It was pretty obvious after seeing this unique and charming black-and-white silent movie that it was going to win.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

O/A/R Now and the O/S/C/A/R/S Later

Friday, February 17, 2012:
We saw one of our favorite bands again tonight at the new Marathon Music Works in Nashville.  The guys from O/A/R were spot-on but unfortunately we were not impressed with the sound in the MMW.  The venue blamed the band's sound engineer, but I doubt that since this is our fourth time seeing them and they have always sounded great (including two outdoor shows).  It was their first sell-out in the new venue and we hope they improve the acoustics because it could be a nice addition to the Nashville live music scene.

The Marathon Music Works entry stamp couldn't be cuter.  Now, if they will only work as hard on their acoustics.  Before the show we had dinner with our friends, Mike and Pam, at J. Alexander's on West End.  We listened intently about their recent trip to Peru and quickly surmised that we wanted to do the same trip.  Sounds amazing!  We spent the night after the show at the Millennium Maxwell Hotel on the north end of downtown.  We got a great, cheap rate and the hotel was decent, but nothing to really endorse.
Saturday, February 18, 2012:

After a nice sleep-in, we checked out of our hotel this morning and headed over to the Belcourt Theatre to meet our friends, Danny and Brenda, for a showing of the Oscar-nominated short films of this past year.  We saw these last year here in preparation for Danny and Brenda's annual Oscar party and they were very enjoyable.  This year was no exception.  Both the animated and live entries were all great.  It's quite hard to pick a favorite in both categories.  All of them seem to have a great chance (and deserve) to win.  I think our ballots might all read differently at the Oscar party this year.  We all had dinner afterwards at a place that is quickly becoming one of our favorite restaurants in Nashville now, Whiskey Kitchen on 12th Avenue South.  The food was delicious and very affordable.
Monday, February 20, 2012:

Since it was a holiday (thanks, presidents), we decided to head back to Nashville to grab a mid-day meal at the always-great P.F. Changs on West End and then finish up the viewing of the Oscar Shorts at Belcourt with the documentaries category.  Again, all entries that we saw were very well done, but we will give a nod to The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, quite moving and beautifully shot.   Afterwards, we slipped over to Green Hills for a showing of one of this year's Best Picture nominees, The Descendants, starring Best Actor nominee, George Clooney.  Wow!  It's amazing how much with both absolutely HATED this movie.  Again, this blog is never intended to harp on the negative, but, folks, this movie is baaaaadd!  We were very surprised since it is getting rave reviews, and is from the director of one our favorite small-budget films of the last decade, Sideways.  But that's the great thing about art, one person's crappola is another person's treasure.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Aruba State of Mind

Saturday, February 13, 2012:  Today was a lazy day with no specific plans in Aruba.  Lots of pool time followed by lots of beach time.
Downtown Oranjestad.

We saw this guy on our way to the beach.  He was skittering across a parking lot.
Note the beer cap by his tale ruining the "natural" effect of the shot.

The beaches rock in Aruba.  It's their # 1 draw and for good reason.
They are simply spectacular with soft white sand and beautiful water.
Our only real "bust" of the trip was waiting 3 hours or so downtown
in the capital city of Oranjestad for the Carnaval Parade to pass.
Evidently "island time" applies to parades as well because we
never saw it except on a TV broadcast in one of the casinos.

Aruba Farewell

Thursday, February 12, 2011:  On our last day in Aruba, we took an early morning car-tour
around some of the island.
California Lighthouse on the NW tip of the island as seen through ancient, land-locked coral.

A windswept Divi-divi tree on the beach.
Cactus on the beach?  Well, that's different, but that's Aruba.

Mt. Jamanota, only 620 ft. above flat Aruba and covered with cacti.

South America is only 17 miles south of Aruba, but it's still considered in the Caribbean.
We flew back into Atlanta and landed around 8 PM (EST).  After our farewells at the airport, we hopped back in the car with Danny and Brenda for the drive back to Nashville.  We made a quick stop in downtown Atlanta at the famous Varsity Drive-In for some junk food to tide us over on the trip home.  We got home about midnight.  What a great trip!

Aruba Achieved!

Friday, February 10, 2012:  We had a leisurely morning on the "Happy Island" hanging around our villa.  Our afternoon plans included a private snorkel, sail and dinner cruise for six of us while Danny and Brenda had a scuba dive trip scheduled.

We couldn't have been happier with our set-up at the Merlot Villas.
Our snorkel destination was Spanish Lagoon.
With the boat anchored above it, we swam over to the reef
with the odd wooden deck built above it in the surf.
and then snorkeled in the lagoon itself to the left and right. 
We saw tons of fish and the water temps were perfect.
Our four-hour private sail on the Morning Star was amazing. 
The snorkeling was good.  The sailing was smooth.  And dinner was fantastic.
JJ and Katrin were great hosts.
Addendum:  Danny and Brenda's dive trip went good also.  Danny took some wonderful pictures that he shared with us included some great shots of moray eels, one of which was even out of its den which is kind of rare.  He also had a great video of a flounder swimming away from him that was very cool.

Aruba Bound!

Wednesday, February 8:  We drove down to Atlanta tonight with our friends, Danny and Brenda, in preparation for a quick trip to Aruba over the long weekend.  Also joining us on the trip would be our friends, Chris and Tarryn, as well as John and Monique.  We met our friend who lives in Atlanta, Rex, for dinner north of downtown in Marietta at Pappasito's Cantina, a wonderful Tex-Mex grill.  We got a cheap room at a Best Western near the airport and flew out the next morning around 10 AM.

Thursday, February 9:  We got a great deal on a direct flight to Aruba out of Atlanta on AirTran Airways.  At only 3.5 hours, the flight down was easy and perfect for a short trip out of the winter blues of Tennessee.

The flight down offered some amazing views below.
Here a long, thin island in the Bahamas stretches out from under the plane wing.

An incredible  view of Haiti also came into view.
Here's the whole crew on our first night in Aruba
after dinner on Surfside Beach at Barefoot Restaurant.
The food and company were fabulous.

Another amazing view out the plane window of Aruba on approach to our landing.

We all stayed in a four-bedroom house inside the gated Merlot Villas complex.
The cost was very reasonable and we couldn't have been happier.
We all have private baths and a great pool to hang out around.
We were about a five-minute drive from the beach.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Filthy Irish and the Dirty Guv'nahs

We saw a couple of great shows in Nashville this past week:

Tuesday, January 31, 2012:

We caught a show by the Irish folk-rock band, Gaelic Storm, at the new & (somewhat) improved 3rd & Lindsley tonight.  We fell in love with these guys on the Rombello Music Cruise we did last year (see previous blog). 

This was a good show, albeit a bit less raucous than on the ones on the cruise ship since there are still too many damn tables and chairs in this venue to really get up and move around and enjoy yourself.  Thanks to our friends, Nate and Ginny for joining us at the show.

  Saturday, February 4, 2012:

We attended another SOLD OUT show for The Dirty Guv'nahs tonight at the Mercy Lounge.  The band was on fire as usual, but unfortunately a rowdy crowd of drunken frat boys near us kind of spoiled the overall experience with their antics. It wasn't a total loss, however, as we also enjoyed the opening band from Nashville called The Cadillac Black, a hard-rockin' trio that we had not seen before and whose original music is very good.  Above is a shot of TCB lead singer and guitarist, Jaren Johnston, wowing the crowd in their finale song.

  We called it a night a bit early before the Guv'nahs were done playing just to get away from the rowdy crowd of drunks and headed back to our nearby hotel, The Loews Vanderbilt.  Thanks to a great deal found on Sniqueaway.com, we were able to get a room at this famouns (and fancy) West End hotel at a sweet price that included some yummy complimentary  hors d'euvres in their conceirge lounge before the show.  We had enough of the free crab meatballs and spring rolls to basically call it dinner, although we did slip over to the nearby Blackstone Brewery for a few craft beers and a hot pretzel as well before grabbing a cab to the show.   We continued our Nashville "staycation" with a visit to the always-popular, Pancake Pantry, for breakfast the next morning.  It was the first time we had actually been there and the food was great.  After lounging around our lovely and comfy room until the noon checkout, we headed over to the 100 Oaks area and caught a matinee showing of  "Hugo" in 3D.  This charming film is up for "Best Picture" at the Oscars later this month and it gets our vote of the nominees we have seen so far.