Out & About Today Nashville Channel 5
Happening in Nashville
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No matter how fast I ran, or how many times I zigged and zagged, I heard the dog getting closer. First his paws, then his growling, then his breathing.
Finally, I gave up. I stopped, groped around until I found a fallen branch, and backed up against the biggest tree I could find. I held the stick like a baseball bat and waited to see my pursuer.
He—I assume it was a he—padded out of the shadows into a thin patch of moonlight. In my terrified state he looked as big as a horse, and the first thing I thought of was The Hound of the Baskervilles. Reading that story as a child, I always wondered how anyone could be so scared of a mere dog. Now I knew.
He had short hair that shone where the moonlight hit it and rippled over his muscles. I couldn’t see any teeth when he growled, but I was pretty sure they’d be huge, too. The stick in my hand could not have felt more inadequate. I remembered Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters, facing down a hellhound, and thought, Who ya gonna call? Nobody came to mind.
He was less than ten feet away now, and his masters drew close as well, although with far less speed and grace. Apparently they trusted the dog to do most of the dirty work of catching me. Which, of course, he had.
And now he was about to finish the job.
Then, for no obvious reason, he took a step backwards and growled in a completely new way. Suddenly he was frightened. Something moved in the corner of my eye. Had the Durants flanked me, or had I just run straight into their clutches? I turned.
A man emerged from the forest and stood beside the same tree I cowered against.
Although I couldn’t see his face, his body shape told me it wasn’t C.C., or his friend Doyle. All the Durants I’d seen had been larger as well. He was shorter, and slighter, than any of them. He had an unruly shock of dark hair silhouetted by the moonlight, and wore overalls. He carried no weapon, yet the dog continued to back away, his growl now becoming a low, keening whine.
I glanced from the dog to the man, not sure what exactly was happening. Why did this guy frighten the dog so much?
And then I saw the obvious. I mean that literally: faintly but distinctly, I saw the moonlit trees through the man’s form. He was a ghost.
I suppose, though, this needs some background.
“His name’s Ray Parrish,” Emily Valance said over her cup, her pink bangs falling to her Asian eyes. We sat at one of the tables in the tiny Podunk Tea Room on East Fifth Street between Second and Bowery, sipping tea that cost more than some meals I’d had back in my hometown. Neither of us were natives—I was from Oneonta, and Emily was from California— but we both felt like we belonged nowhere else
“Ray Parrish,” I repeated. “No, I don’t know him.”
“No reason you would. He hasn’t had anything produced yet. Well, unless you count a one-man show he did, Dick from Hicksville.”
“Dick from Hicksville?” I repeated rather archly.
“I know how it sounds, it’s a terrible title. But it was great. It was all about the difficulties he’d had in making a dent in the theater scene. And, oh my God, was it funny.”
“So it was good?”
“It was brilliant. I couldn’t stop humming one of the songs for two weeks.”
That got my attention. Whenever a professional theater person got an earworm from a new song instead of a Broadway classic, it meant the new piece really was pretty good. And even though Emily was a terrible dancer, she knew good music. “And what’s this new show about, then?” I asked.
“He’s being all hush-hush about it. I know it’s got something to do with mountain people. You know, like from down South?”
“What, like Li’l Abner?”
“I seriously doubt that. He’s from there, so I don’t think he’d be making fun of it. And he let me hear the big ballad he’s written for the female lead.” She paused for effect; actors know just how to do that. “And I want to be the one to sing it, Matt. I do. It’s a career-maker, and I’m not just saying that. If the rest of the score is as good as what I’ve heard, it can’t miss. It’s like it reaches inside you and brings up all these emotions you haven’t felt since you were a teenager, except it’s not like a kid would feel it, you know?”
I shook my head. “Emily, I have no idea what you’re trying to tell me.”
She laughed at her own words. “Good God, I do sound insane, don’t I? It’s so hard to describe it, you just have to hear it. You just have to.”
I sipped my own cappuccino. I’d known Emily for a couple of years now, and enthusiasm wasn’t something she came by naturally. She was a great singer, an okay actress, and a lousy dancer, all facts she knew very well. But she had nursed a mental image of herself in a Broadway musical since girlhood, and she wasn’t about to let a minor detail like lack of appropriate talent stand in her way. Others found her overbearing and bitchy, but I actually admired her. And anything that had a single-minded a performer like her this fired up was something I probably needed to pay attention to.
“So when are the auditions?” I asked.
She shook her head. “No auditions. He’s just calling up people he knows and asking them to come to a rehearsal studio. If he can get along with them, they’re in.”
“He’s personally doing it? Is he directing it?”
“No. Neil Callow is.”
“Neil Callow? No shit?”
“No shit. He’s apparently been quietly in on this from the beginning. I heard Ray even slept on his couch for a couple of months when he couldn’t afford his own place.”
Neil Callow had done some huge shows; in fact, I’d danced in one of them, Sly Mongoose, three years ago. He was a mercurial guy, to be sure, but his talent was undeniable, and anyone who’d worked for him once would jump at the chance to do it again.
“You keep calling him ‘Ray,’ like you know him,” I pointed out.
“I . . . might,” she said, and looked away for a moment. “ ‘Might’ as in ‘might have been out with him’?”
“ ‘Maybe’ as in ‘more than once’?”
She nodded sheepishly. “But, Matt, he’s so old-fashioned and nice, you know? Like I always imagined a real Southern gentleman would be.”
“So you can’t bring yourself to fuck him just to get a part?”
She stuck out her tongue. “No. I don’t do that anyway, you slut.”
I knew she didn’t, but it was still fun to tease her. “So has he called you? In a professional sense?”
“No,” she said, unable to disguise her bitterness. “He hasn’t. And I can’t ask about it. Mainly because if he said, ‘because you’re Asian,’ then I’d have to punch him in the face.”
I nodded. Theater wasn’t as bad as Hollywood at race-blind casting, but it was still hard sometimes for actors of an undeniable race to get roles in shows where the characters weren’t race-specific.
“Well . . . there’s still time, right? They haven’t started rehearsing.”
“I suppose.” She peered into her cup. A guy looked her over blatantly as he left and said, “I sure could do with some Chinese takeout.” She ignored it. After a moment she said, “I have to sing those songs, Matt. I don’t know how to describe it to you, but it’s like he was writing them for me. I know, I know, every singer wants to think that, and he wrote most of these long before I met him. It’s just . . . they’re me. They’re my hopes and dreams and nightmares.” When she looked up, there were tears in her eyes. “If I don’t get that call, I don’t know what I’ll do. I really don’t.”
At that moment my own phone rang. The number didn’t come up as one I recognized, and I was about to let it go to voice mail, when Emily said, “Go ahead and answer it, I need to freshen up.” She scurried to the restroom before anyone else in the place saw her crying.
I answered. “Hello?”
“Is this-here Matt Johansson?” the voice on the other end said in a distinctive and heavy Southern drawl.
“This is Ray Parrish. I don’t reckon you know me, but I saw you in Regency Way and thought you were great.”
My heart pounded, and I quickly went outside. I glanced at the restroom door through the front window and willed it to stay shut. “Thank you. What can I do for you?”
“Well, I’ve got a new show that I’ve written, and I’d like to talk to you about playing one of the leads. I think you’d be terrific, and really, I just want to see if you, me, and the director get along.”
“Who’s the director?” I asked as casually as I could.
Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God! my brain screamed at this confirmation. This is really happening, right here, right now. My voice said, “Oh, I’ve worked with Neil before. Sounds interesting.”
“All right. I’ll text you the address and the time. Great talking to you.”
“Great talking to you, too,” I said, hoping I didn’t sound as numb as I felt. That could come across as blasé, and I was anything but that.
The call ended, and Emily emerged from the tearoom. “What’s wrong?”
“Wrong? Nothing. Why?”
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost. Who was on the phone? Did you get bad news?”
“That? No. It was . . .” Her concern was so genuine, and I’m such a terrible liar, that my brain refused to cough up a reasonable deception. “Some scam call trying to tell me I had a bunch of money coming because some rich uncle died. Heh-heh.”
Emily stared at me. I couldn’t blame her. I felt myself turn red. “They called you,” she said at last. It was a whisper, but the jealousy and accusation in it were so loud, I was sure they heard it in Queens.
I lowered my head and nodded. “Yes. I’m sorry. I danced in one of Neil’s shows, so they thought . . .” I wasn’t about to tell her they’d offered me one of the leads.
Fresh tears filled her recently re-mascaraed eyes. Without another word she ran off down the street. I knew better than to follow; the last thing she wanted right now was my presence reminding her that she’d been passed over yet again. I wondered if she’d mention this to Ray, or if this spelled the end of that relationship. Or perhaps her friendship with me.
I went back inside, drank the rest of my tea, and Emily’s, in a kind of blank daze. It was just another Off-Off-Broadway show, an original musical at that. The run would probably be two weeks at the most, and the money barely enough to exist on. But I felt a surge of excitement building in me far out of proportion to the reality. Was this how those first performers in A Chorus Line or Rent felt just before going in to audition for those shows? Did they, at some subconscious, instinctive, primal level, just know? Because looking back, it was clear I did.
I stayed in that daze as I headed home to Bushwick. Ray hadn’t described it as an audition, and Emily said they were just calling people they already knew could perform. But I didn’t want to be caught off guard. I mentally ran through a list of songs I knew I sang really well, and then tried to remember if I had sheet music for them. If not, at least I had time to download it.
And while I was downloading, I could find out a little more about Ray Parrish.
I knew nothing about this show yet, I kept reminding myself. But I already knew I wanted it.
Photo at top: Alex Bledsoe's daughter gets shy around the magnolia tree in her Gran's front yard in Gibson, Tennessee.
For those with a thirst to celebrate, Red Bull Unlocked is the key. In city after city, the most exciting bars, clubs, mixologists, performing artists, and more take over a local landmark building to showcase their signature ambiance while also collaborating for a must-see mashup. And now it's Music City’s turn to seize the spotlight, as the event brings 10 bars together in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood.
Fueled by the best of Nashville’s thriving music scene, Red Bull Unlocked has curated an eclectic night of show-stopping entertainment performances including a pop-up Whiskey Jam show, DJ sets, musicians, and more. The full lineup is here:
- Whiskey Jam (feat. Dozzi, Willie Shaw, and Johnny Hayes)
- A.B. Eastwood
- Daisha / Rap Girl
- Boom Bap (DJ Collective feat. DJ-Rate, Case Bloom)
- Whiskey Disco (DJ Collective feat. Coach, Jim O'Shea)
- Old Crow Medicine Show’s Jerry Pentercost (DJ Set)
- DJ Stretch
- DJ Griffin Green
- The Play Mates (Drag Show feat. Sasha, Vanity, Deception, Aura Mayari, Corlis Todd, and Carmin Triple C)
Counting down to the epic celebration, Daisha shares, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in so many of Nashville’s top spots all in the same night. Fans can expect a lot of bops and high energy. I want people to dance and have a good time.”
Ward Guenther, Whiskey Jam Founder, adds, “Red Bull has been enjoyed at Whiskey Jam since the very first night, so it's only fitting Whiskey Jam is enjoyed at Nashville's first Red Bull Unlocked. Looking forward to this!”
Red Bull Unlocked Istanbul
Photo courtesy of Red Bull
Local favorites including Pearl Diver, Tin Roof, Lipstick Lounge, White Limozeen, and more will join forces for one epic night. Full list of bars and partners below:
- The Dive Motel
- Lipstick Lounge
- Pearl Diver
- Play Dance Bar
- Rosemary & Beauty Queen
- The Stage
- Tin Roof
- Whiskey Jam
- White Limozeen
- Woolworth Theatre – Opening Fall 2022!
- Eleven Eleven - Opening 2023!
Date: August 21, 2022
Time: 6 PM – 11PM CT
Location: 1102 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Entrance: Ticked event
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.