My sister and I went to the Southern Ground Music Festival last weekend on the riverfront in Nashville. It is Zac Brown’s big food and music event that is normally in South Carolina but they added a Nashville stop this year. There was live music all day Friday and Saturday, some local food trucks, and plenty of dancing and singing!
On the Pedestrian Bridge. My first time on it. I'm from here, I promise. I just apparently never cross the river.
The artists were all incredible. It was basically like watching the best of the best having a huge jam session. The big concert both nights was obviously the Zac Brown Band featuring John Mayer (on guitar since he is on vocal rest), Sheryl Crow, Gregg Allman, Dwight Yoakam, and Alan Jackson including daytime performances by Amos Lee, Edward Sharpe, Michael Franti, The Los Lonely Boys, Holly Williams and a ton of others. They all totally rocked it.
Random dude that can rock the fiddle
Stuck Between a Rock and Mainstream Country Radio
I must admit that my taste in music is typically very mainstream. I love Zac Brown but wasn’t incredibly familiar with groups like Edward Sharpe and Amos Lee. But my sister’s goal for the weekend was to expose me to all kinds of music. And she did. Although I still have a lot to learn. For example, one group prefaced a song with “If you don’t know this song then you have been living under a rock or something!” Which is of course a guarantee that I have, in fact, never heard the song. I sheepishly admitted to my sis that I had NO idea what they were playing.
“Emily….. (shakes head)… come on. This is a Metallica song.”
The rock that I live under does not involve Metallica. I can assure you of that.
So later on Zac Brown alluded to a special surprise guest and then started to sing a song that, once again, I had never heard. Our conversation went something like this…
“What song is this???”
“Emily. Seriously. This is Nirvana.”
“Ohhh!!! Maybe Nirvana will be the special guest!”
(Shakes head again and tries not to laugh). “Seriously? Emily, Kurt Cobain is dead. Like, he died a long time ago. Early 90s.”
“Kurt Cobain? Huh? I thought we were talking about Nirvana.”
“Oh. My. Gosh. Please just be quiet and listen.”
Say Hey… Can we get a picture?
So Michael Franti (you will know him for Say Hey or The Sound of Sunshine) is one of my sister’s favorite artists ever. She has seen him like 5 times. This year. So we totally were digging his set. Then, during the stage change, they have lesser known artists perform on a smaller stage. We wandered over to the side of the small stage and I just sort of propped myself up against the fence. Next thing I know, my sis is whispering...
“Emily. Emily. Emily. That is Michael Franti. You are standing beside Michael Franti. Oh my gosh. Sneak a picture.”
Apparently he had gone to the side stage to watch one of his buddies perform. I admittedly don’t know much about the guy so I wasn’t starstruck. Sister? She’s speechless for like the first time in her life.
“Oh, that’s Michael Franti? Haven’t you seen him like 5 times? Talk to him…. Hello… Oh my gosh, just say something… Okay, whatever. Hey Michael! Can we get our picture with you?”
With Michael Franti
I say thanks and we walk away. My speechless sister finally decides to speak.
“Oh my goodness. Michael touched my shoulder... I had so much to say... Like that I love him... But I was too excited… This was the best moment ever! Okay, let me see the picture again.”
She might hate me for telling that story, but hey, I did much sillier things. Obviously. And my musical ignorance was just the beginning.
Beef’s First Flight
This was a food festival as well, so some of Nashville’s food trucks were lined up by the gates. However, they clearly didn’t plan the food part very well because they had 6 food trucks for about 10,000 people. The lines were hours long, even on off-peak hours. But we all know that I get grumpy if I don’t eat. So we stood in line. And waited. And watched trucks run out of food. And waited. And then realized we could only pay with cash. And waited. And after a few sighs and a few dramatic claims of passing out ‘if I don’t eat this instance’, we finally got our food. I had a hamburger from Riff’s Street Food. It came in one of those cute red-checkered cardboard boxes. The burger was seasoned perfectly and topped with some kind of specialty cheese, onions, homemade mustard, and seasoned fries. Fries ON a burger? Sure. I can dig this. We carried our food to a spot in the shade (Of course, I ate a few fries on the way over. How could I not?). We found a little patch of grass in the middle of a sea of people and sat down. Well, I tried to sit down. I was trying to take my backpack off and balance my food and pull my shirt down so that I could sit without flashing people and trying to stay out of the way of other hungry concert goers who were on the move. It was just too much. The next thing I know, my backpack slides off my shoulder, my overpriced burger goes flying through the air, the top of the bun lands in the dirt, the mustard is all down my arm, the onions are on my leg, the patty is in my hand (which is now clinched like a fist with beef and mustard oozing through), and the bottom of my bun has landed in my sister’s macaroni. And the fries? Those poor guys are all tossed in the grass and immediately smashed under a parade of cowboy boots and chacos. Again, my sister looked at me like “Who are you?” Well, I’ll tell you. I’m the girl that eats it anyways. You know, the classy kind. Okay, so I didn’t eat the bun that hit the ground or the trampled fries (thank goodness I had sampled some already), but I reassembled the rest and loved every bite of it. And those sanitizer wipes that I was made fun of for hauling around? (Port-a-potties? Ick!) They come in handy when you are covered with a sticky, mustardy substance.
Her 1st Night Food Truck Victory. Salami Calzone.
I’ve been here before…
Okay. Port a potties. Not ideal. I am the biggest germ-a-phobe ever. I use hand sanitizer so much that people tell me that the smell of rubbing alcohol reminds them of me. I would love it if I had a plastic bubble around me at all times. But seriously. So here we are at an all day event. I had to use bathroom. I contemplated holding it. I really did. But 12 hours is just too long. So there was a field full of these big blue germ incubators. There must have been a hundred of them. I picked a random one decently far away from the rest hoping that people would be lazy enough to not walk that far. Fewer people = fewer germs. Right? So I hold my breath (natural reaction), use the bathroom as quickly as possible, bust out of the port a potty, and then basically take a bath in those hand sanitizer wipes that I packed. So there you have it. I survived my first bathroom experience.
But then I started panicking. I had gone too early! I didn’t space out my time correctly. I still had nine hours left. I just knew that I would have to go again. It bothered me for hours. I kept thinking about it. Worrying about it. Would I survive a second go-around in the death chamber? Hours later as we were watching Edward Sharpe, I noticed that the sun was starting to set. I was caught up in the ways that the rays were bouncing off of the Batman building when it hit me.
“The sun is setting! I have to go to the bathroom NOW! I can’t go in the dark… are you kidding me? You never know what is in those things! And the ground is hilly. I might fall. Or fall in? I’m leaving my backpack and phone here. What if they fell in??? I’m freaking out. But I’m taking the sani-wipes with me.”
“Oh my goodness. You just said that you want to go hangliding with me but you are scared to go to the bathroom after dark??? You are going to miss a great show, but whatever. Go.”
I go through the same routine. Hold breath. Go quickly. Run out. Disinfect.
I find my sister in the crowd and just quietly sit down. She asks me how it was. I say “Fine.” But she knows I’m not fine. “What did you do this time?”
“Okay, so out of the hundreds of port a potties over there, is it weirder that I coincidentally went into the exact same port a potty twice… or the fact that I know that I went in the same one twice??”
“The port a potty. I was so freaked out the first time that I noticed every little thing. The advil on the floor. The ink pen mark on the door. The gum on the wall. And then I picked a random one again. But it wasn’t so random because as soon as I got in there I recognized it.”
“You memorized the port a potty trash and recognized it five hours later?”
“Why yes. Yes, I did.” (insert a long, long, long pause married with an awkward stare here) “I hate germs.”
So the nightly concerts were decently crowded. During the day everyone was scattered across the field on blankets, but at night everyone generally packed up and moved in closer. But not that close.
The two of us were just standing there listening to the music when this huge group of girls got all up in our space. Not intentionally rude, just oblivious. And loud. And chatty. And tall. They didn't notice that they kept bumping into me. They didn't notice that they were talking louder than the music, if that is even possible at a concert. And they didn't notice that they were standing way too close to my comfort zone. So to encourage them to move on along to a different spot, I started singing along. Very loudly. But I got no reaction. So then I thought, "Maybe if I dance like crazy they will be annoyed and move along." I did the windmill. The washing machine. The swimmer. The gator chomp. At this point I was just making up moves to make them crazy. All while singing at the top of my lungs. I looked like a fool.
Except, of course, they didn't notice at all.
Then I realized that I was totally being that girl in the crowd that is annoying to stand near. Backfired plan. We moved. They stayed. Epic fail. But I kept dancing anyways. Why stop when you are all loosened up?
Okay, so maybe I act like I don’t get out much. And maybe I’m a little bit strange. But in large groups of people, I feel like the normal one. Trust me. These types of festivals draw all kinds of people. And if you like People Watching like I do, you know that this is prime time. The outfits. The hair. The old men with the young blondes. The old women with the young hipsters. It’s all interesting. In fact, my sister and I did the sunglasses test. “Can you see my eyes through my sunglasses? Like, if I’m staring at you, can you tell? Okay. Good.”
Our favorite find? I spotted a particular tattoo from a mile away. A giant quote on some dude’s forearm. We inched closer to read it, but I just couldn’t make sense of it. “I feel more like I do now then I did when I got here.” I don’t get it. And then it hit me.
“Okay. Wow. Read the tattoo over there. Shouldn’t that say THAN and not THEN???”
“Tattoo Typo. Major.”
“Sneak a pic. We will need to remember this one.”
"I feel more like I do now then I did when I got here."
Okay, so I have said and done some silly things. But at least none of them are permanently attached to me! I mean, the quote doesn't make sense anyways. But seriously. Google it before you ink it, dude.
So I admit, this post took forever to type because I was laughing so hard at all of the memories from this weekend. Maybe you just had to be there… We’ll see you there next year.
Music City, I do love you.