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Interviewing Amy Ray once is crazy enough, but when I heard Indigo Girls were playing the Ryman on March 9, I decided to push my luck and send Ray an email.
Three days later, I had her on the phone again for another interview. How cool is that? One-half of the musical group arguably most responsible for bringing attention to equality issues was going to talk to me for a SECOND time.
A little background for those of you dwelling under rocks for the past 27 years: Ray and partner-in-crime Emily Saliers formed the Indigo Girls sometime around 1985 when as students at Emory University in Atlanta, they performed together at a local bar. In 1988 they made their first record for a major label and since then have conquered virtually every milestone a band could possible want to conquer, from chart-topping hits to platinum records to Grammy awards, all while being out lesbian women.
Fun fact: Ray went to Vanderbilt her first year of college. “It was very hard for me because Vanderbilt was, at the time, really conservative,” she said. “As someone who had just figured out I was gay, it was rough.”
Pretty interesting since Vandy, in my opinion, is hardly the most conservative school in town and is downright gay-friendly compared to some alternatives. Ray explained, “It wasn’t like that in ’83. It was the Reagan era and it was very conservative. And it was very, very, very money-oriented back then, sororities and fraternities and a lot of money.”
Apparently it was not always that way. “In the 70’s, my sister had gone there and it was incredible,” she said. “I used to go there and hang out on campus with her and it was so progressive and crazy, with art and the music scene was amazing. All these great country-punk bands were coming up and they had concerts there like Black Flag. Great punk groups would come through and play. As a kid, I was like ‘I want to go to school there.’ But then as soon as I got there it changed all of a sudden, going through this über-conservative period.”
We talk about Nashville for a while and some of the wackier stuff that’s going on around here with the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. “Nashville, I have to say…” her voice trailed off thoughtfully. “It’s gotten so much better than it used to be, but it’s been hard. It’s been slower to come around for queer people there.”
She told me a story about playing a show at 12th and Porter with her punk band in 2002, where the bartenders relentlessly made fun of their audience. “I felt like here we were, totally packed house, people were tipping well- it was a really nice audience,” she explained. “And there were three or four people making constant, really mean, derisive jokes. It just sucked.”
In spite of such a crappy experience, Ray is optimistic. “I think in the South there’s some headway being made, not legislatively [laughs], but dialogue-wise. There’s a lot of good dialogue.”
Her optimism is particularly impressive as a resident of the middle of nowhere in Georgia. “Even though I live in an über-conservative area, there’s a lot of great people here,” she said.
Ray even managed to find a bright spot in the economic crisis. “I think the federal government and the economy was so weakened and impoverished economically speaking that I think a lot of communities were like, “Well, we have to take care of our own.” And it didn’t matter what political alliance you were. You do a shelter, you do a food program, you do a medical clinic, you do a dental clinic, and you do things in your community that help people and it’s not partisan. That’s exciting to me, to see that kind of stuff. And I think that’s one of the good things that has grown out of this horrible economy in the past eight years. But as far as queer issues, there’s dialogue but there’s not a lot of legislative movement and we have a long way to go.”
She has a pretty realistic idea about how progress will go around here. “State by state, in the South,” she said. “But that’s okay. I’m not going to leave. I’m a Southerner, you know I’m a die-hard.”
One thing Ray loves about the South lately is the incredible music scene. “I love how in the South there’s finally more of these indie country-kind of groups that are doing well, really taking the bull by the horns and doing their thing,” she said in between us rattling off a couple favorite groups to each other. She’s totally on top of the music scene in the Southeast, which is super refreshing. I sometimes worry that it’s easy for artists like the Indigo Girls to stagnate artistically, but Ray and I talked about Shovels and Rope and Alabama Shakes. She hipped me to a sweet outlaw country singer named Hannah Thomas.
“We stay active,” Ray said about her music with Saliers. “We talk about music all the time and we talk about writing ideas. Those kind of things constantly inform us and give us a different outlook musically, a different chord vocabulary sometimes, a different way of looking at harmony.”
“Right now we’re playing with this band The Shadowboxers. It’s these young guys that we met a couple years ago that Emily brought into the fold,” Ray explained. “It’s a five piece rock band, but they do a million different kinds of music and they’re really special singers and writers.”
The Indigo Girls are always growing. Each record they make brings something new to the table. Their latest (and fourteenth!) release, “Beauty Queen Sister”, is bold and exciting, featuring their signature harmonies plus a foray into Celtic sounds and incredible string arrangements. Ray even mentioned the Indigo Girls will be making a live record in May with the Birmingham Symphony. I don’t know what you’re doing on March 9, but you’d be hard-pressed to find something better to do than see the ever-evolving Indigo Girls at the Ryman.
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.