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One of the most exciting activities on the cultural front here in Nashville these days is the "Stronger ARTS/STRONGER Cities" series presented monthly by the Vanderbilt Barnes & Noble. So far this year we have heard from Alan Valentine, CEO of The Nashville Symphony and Nashville Shakespeare Festival's Artistic Director Denice Hicks, among others, and last month we got to spend some time with the amazing Martha Rivers Ingram who, among her many contributions, was responsible for organizing the forces that gave Nashville TPAC - The Tennessee Performing Arts Center.
"It's been an honor interviewing some of Nashville's most influential people for our Stronger ARTS/STRONGER Cities program and I look forward to keeping the momentum going with this month's sit down with TPAC CEO Kathleen O'Brien," said B&N Director of Communications John Lasiter, who hosts the monthly event, and indeed we can all look forward to hearing from O'Brien, whose hard work and spirit of civic camaraderie make TPAC such a vital and vibrant force on the Nashville arts scene.
O'Brien grew up in Waterville, Maine and got her first taste of theatre when her family spent summers on East Pond in Oakland and took in shows at the Lakewood Summer Stock Theatre nearby. Musically, her mother sang in church and the church also had a yearly variety show in which her family participated. Her grandmother, too, was a great inspiration. A missionary in Japan in the 1940s, she had a "hobby room" in which she displayed artifacts from various cultures. "Cultural Anthropology," said O'Brien, "was one of my favorite courses in college." Her other grandmother taught her to sew, so she grew up doing her own fashion design and sewing.
Waterville is a small town where cultural events engage the whole community. Things were different in Miami, where O'Brien moved with her family when she was fourteen. (Her father, who was in road and building construction, "was tired of shoveling snow!") The cultural focus in Miami was not as strong, but one influential experience was a high school glee club class -- a serious class where you got graded and had to perform a solo to get that grade. Incidentally, among her glee club classmates was Harry Casey of KC and the Sunshine Band.
O'Brien began her college career at Miami Dade Community College, then married and finished her journalism degree at Virginia Intermont College in Bristol, Virginia, where she also served as the college's Director of Public Affairs, promoting the school's programs -- theatre, ballet, equine, et al. This is where she became aware of the possibilities for combining arts and education. That job also paved the way for her to come to TPAC as the Director of Pubic Affairs in 1988. In 2005 she moved into her current position as CEO.
TPAC's mission as defined in the State charter is "to operate exclusively for cultural, educational, and/or literary purposes by providing facilities, services, and programs of the highest quality for the greatest benefit of the people, institutions and communities of the State of Tennessee." TPAC is not a producer, but a presenter. We go to TPAC to see the national tours of Broadway shows and other touring companies but also for productions by the Nashville Opera, the Nashville Ballet and the Tennessee Repertory Theatre. TPAC also brings us HOT -- Humanities Outreach in Tennessee -- a curated program for young people grades K - 12 which serves all 95 Tennessee counties. Nashville and TPAC were also chosen as the first city outside of New York City to pilot the Disney Musicals in Schools program in which teaching artists go into the schools and work with teachers and students to produce a 30-minute truncated version of a Disney musical.
O'Brien and her team also routinely travel to the Big Apple to check out Broadway shows and attend conferences that pertain to bringing the national tours of Broadway shows to Music City.
TPAC is also part of a national network of organizations that invest in Broadway shows in order to make sure that the rich pipeline of Broadway shows to go out across the US is kept active and vital. A matter of pride for us all is that TPAC is an investor in the tremendously successful Kinky Boots which is Nashville bound in February 2015.
Under O'Brien's time as CEO, TPAC has embraced its role as a catalyst for developing a strong arts community and as a significant contributor to the economic, educational and creative impact to our state. That includes TPAC's efforts to nurture local organizations that create art in Nashville and its work to bring in touring shows, providing opportunities to experience art created outside of our community. Perhaps most important of all, TPAC has exposed over 1.6 million students to the arts through its educational programs in order to create future generations of artists, art lovers and audience members.
On Nashville as a theatre town, O'Brien observes that our city enjoys "many levels and styles of theatre. There are many companies in town, each of which has its own aesthetic" -- and adds "when you buy a season ticket, you go to things that become delightful surprises."
For a chance to find out more about Kathleen O'Brien and TPAC, plan to join her and host John Lasiter for the next Stronger ARTS/STRONGER Cities shindig at the Vanderbilt Barnes & Noble at 7:00 on Thursday, June 19th.
Photo via facebook.com/strongerarts
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.