This whole trip feels like a well planned and meticulously arranged soundtrack, where the mood and the vibe of the song determines its placement. We start off with the twangy and country sounds of Shovels and Rope, mix in the nostalgia of Tom Petty and Elton John, roll into the classics with our boy Johnny Cash and then end with some new Americana: The Wild Feathers, The Head and the Heart, Ryan Adams, Saintseneca, The Lumineers and Rayland Baxter. Ohio was classic and country, the stillness and beauty captivates even the most wild of heart. A much needed recharge and burst of creativity, completing two of our major photo shoots. The road was calling and Nashville was our destination. So on we went, cementing our bond sharing stories and sing-a-longs on the road, anticipation seeping through our veins as our destination grew closer and closer.
The sun setting on our second day and we finally reach the city landscape of Nashville! Billboards of every major country artist adorn the city view and we continue on the highway until reaching our rural exit. After our long drive we stop first at Trader Joes with 10 minutes remaining until its close. We rush through the brightly lit grocery store in a tired "drunken" daze, passing smiling hipsters stocking up for their nightly musical porch hang outs. Finding everything we needed for a gourmet salmon BBQ meal (minus the lemons) we check out and greet the first of many musicians we meet moonlighting as store clerks, bartenders, coffee shop connoisseurs etc etc.
We settled in for the night at our second airbnb rental with the most beautiful wooded view, most gracious host and access to the back porch where we grilled up the BBQ and ate the most incredible organic and healthy meal from our road trip chef Sarah. A bottle of wine was had, ok maybe 2 and we shared stories with our host Jeremy, talking about our creative endeavours, his journey to Nashville from Canada and our travels thus far. Community was a very present theme on this trip, the airbnb community of people sharing their homes and stories, the Amish community and their traditions and finally the community in Nashville, where playing music everywhere and anywhere is the norm and community is integral to everyone, borrowing sugar from your neighbour actually happens and in our case: lemons.
"I may leave tired, but I ain't leaving with unfinished business..." Travis Meadows
We didn't have much time to explore Nashville but we packed in as much as we could. Some of our favourite spots included Crema coffee shop for their exceptional brews, Barista Parlour for their exceptional eye candy (beards and man buns around every corner with a capo sticking out of their back pocket) Broadway for its country shops and honky tonk bars, Earthbound Trading co for its jewels, scents and seance kit (more on that later) and Mas Tacos for well the best tacos in town!
We continued our exploration into the night, planning the perfect southern outfits for an evening of blue grass. Scarlet scored us some coveted tickets to the now infamous (thanks to one of the best shows 'Nashville') venues: The Bluebird Cafe. We didn't know the musician we were seeing but that only amplified our experience. A packed house in a tiny bar, the host took the stage to kindly ask everyone to turn off their cellphones and listen to the music we were about to hear. No instagrams were needed, no chatter at the other tables, no camera lights flashing, just silence and full attention on the musician, the way music was intended. We were left speechless by Travis Meadows' set, his funny interludes were perfectly juxtaposed with his poetic and vulnerable lyrics, leaving no emotion unexplored. His musician friends were in the audience that night and he welcomed some of them to take the stage, a man that clearly loved to share his music and his stage. He thanked us for being there and proudly told us it was a dream for him to play at the bluebird and you could see that no amphitheatre could compare to that intimate experience.
After our musical palate was expanded, we headed to Pinewood Social where we were promised bowling and babes, both were found. We sampled some of the local brews and a celebratory whiskey shot was had, when in Nashville...A search for burgers was a must post alcohol consumption and thankfully we had our responsible driver for the night, Genevieve, who loved our rendition of 'Ho Hey' in the backseat. Only pizza was found and pizza flirting may have occurred, when in Nashville...
We concluded our night in true sisterhood fashion, a modern day seance. I was telling the girls on our drive up that I wrote a detailed (very very detailed according to my roommate) list of my perfect mate. I have heard of this manifesting trick many times and decided to also give it a go. So without my knowledge a seance kit was purchased and then brought out at the perfect time, when we came home from the bar. Note to self: never ever play with fire after having a couple drinks or some flames might land on someone's boob (I am truly sorry Sarah). So now my perfect man has been released into the universe complete with long hair, beard and a guitar...so why did I leave Nashville?
We spent our last day having an essential breakfast at Frothy Monkey and then perused the most beautiful shops in trendy 12 South. Stepping into Imogene + Willie felt like stepping into the centrefold of a Kinfolk magazine, every piece was gorgeous and hints of rustic and americana charm were sprinkled throughout. We then checked out White's Mercantile, a trendy general store with organic local soaps, greeting cards, vases, baby clothes, jewellery and the most incredible felt hats to name a few. It took every ounce of willpower for me to not buy the hat...one things for sure Nashville has style or at least the kinda style I love.
We packed up our things and said goodbye to our lovely Nashville oasis. The cat that took refuge in my blanket all week was not impressed that I took her favourite new thing with me. On the road again, stopping an hour outside of Nashville in Old Hickory. This was the home of the perfect retro pink trailer we found for our final photo shoot. Before the trip I envisioned and planned a cool retro look for the styling, sifting through my personal vintage collection and finding three perfect dresses. But as was the theme for our whole trip I had to make a last minute creative switch in the styling because it was so damn hot! I knew dresses were not an option as they would stick to our sweaty bodies and found barely there pieces that somehow made a cohesive story: we were now going dirty south. Because we were never stuck on one vision we were always able to use our surroundings to our advantage and I think our shoots were better than expected. That's the magic of the moment, that's letting life carry you and just enjoying the ride
After a sweaty and mosquito filled shoot we were off, leaving our hearts and stories in Nashville. I always find it amazing how I can travel to a new place and immediately feel a part of it, forgetting the struggles from home, forgetting the tasks of my future and just being in a place. The one thing I felt the most about that city was the community of artists, a whole city built around the experience of music. To see that passion and fire was inspiring. It took us 12 hours of driving to get home and at the end of our drive we witnessed one of the most colourful and beautiful sunrises I have ever seen. It was the second time that week I saw the sunrise and I just couldn't help but think: when you pay attention to it life can always be good.
Photos by Ana
4th photo down by Scarlet O'Neill