Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pearl Clarkin (September Issue)

When I told a friend of mine that I would be writing the Arts and Culture column, she recommended that I meet a young singer by the name of Pearl Clarkin.  She spoke very highly of Pearl and said she had something special.  So, of course, I had to see it for myself.  Before meeting Pearl, I searched the Internet to see what she was all about. I would describe what I saw as a beautiful girl with lots of confidence and a zest for life.  Upon meeting her, I would definitely add to that list kind, humble and determined. 

Pearl says she wrote her first song “Even Though I Want To” at the age of 12 with Macy Gray at an American Idol camp.  She was chosen to be in the finale of the camp, and the camp director told Pearl’s mom that she had it all.  At age 14, Pearl recorded the song and made a video.  Pearl’s parents moved her from Pensacola, Florida to Nashville for professional training.  On her second day in town, CMT called wanting her to be in a songwriter contest.  Things started happening really fast for Pearl and she says, “It just got crazy”.  She moved back to Pensacola to live a normal life for a while.

Now 17 and living in Brentwood, Pearl is back on track and headed in the right direction.  She has been working with Cowboy Troy at AStar Promotions and has opened for Charlie Daniels and Zac Brown Band.   She will also be opening for Montgomery Gentry in the fall.  She’s been seen around Nashville on stage at the Hard Rock Café’, Just Kickin’, and she performed at the CMA Fest.

With all that she’s done in such a few short years, Pearl knows she is still learning and has a lot more to experience.  As I was interviewing her, she had a lot of questions for me about my experience in the Nashville music scene.  My advice to Pearl and anyone in this crazy business is to take good care of yourself, find musicians you can rely on and get along with and don’t let anyone take advantage of you.   I hope Pearl listens to my advice.  I will be following her and wishing her the best in her career!

Nashville Gets Nutty! (September Issue)

Working for this publication for the past several months has allowed me to be a part of so many exciting things going on in our area.  Someone recently read my last column and said, “Wow, you are really living life!”  Well, I couldn’t agree more, and the subject of this particular story is a great example. 

First let me say that I am a Broadway junkie.  I could go to New York City and see shows all day everyday for a week, especially the musicals, and never get tired of it.  The back of my “I heart New York” t-shirt should say “Thanks to Broadway!” Therefore, on July 11th, I had one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had.  I was invited to the Media Day for The Nutty Professor at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC).   If you don’t know what’s going on, let me get you up to speed.  “The King of Comedy” Jerry Lewis is directing the new musical “The Nutty Professor” based on his 1963 hit movie.  Before a show hits Broadway, it has to be previewed somewhere else to determine if it’s worthy and to test it out in front of an audience.   The TPAC is one of the few facilities in the country that can provide all that is needed to create a Broadway musical from the ground up.   Collaborating with the now late Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line), winner of Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy Awards, and the Pulitzer Prize, for the music and three-time Tony Award winner Rupert Holmes (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) for the book and lyrics, Lewis is very hopeful that the musical will open on Broadway next year.
When I arrived at the TPAC for media day, I was still in disbelief that I got to be a part of something so spectacular.  It was very surreal, and I kept telling myself to soak all of it in and not take one moment for granted.  It all started with a press conference with Jerry Lewis (Director), Rupert Holmes (Book and Lyrics), Michael Andrew (Professor Julius Kelp/Buddy Love), Marissa McGowan (Stella Purdy), JoAnn Hunter (Choreographer) and Ray Roderick (Assistant Director).   I really didn’t know what to expect from Mr. Lewis.  When I found out he was directing at 86 years old, I was a bit shocked.  However, he was still as funny as ever and definitely on his game.   When asked, “Why Nashville?” Lewis responded by saying, “Nobody else would take us!”  After we all had a good laugh he went on to explain that Nashville is a hot bed for theater.  People here are “theatergoers”, and this is the type of audience needed.  He said, “Nashville itself sounds theatrical.”  He was so passionate about the musical and said that the cast has more talent than anyone he has ever seen.  For someone that has been performing for over 79 years, that was quite a bold statement, but he stands by his word, especially concerning Michael Andrew.

Andrew says that playing the part of Julius and Buddy has been a dream of his since he saw the movie for the first time at nine years old.  He was really into magic and thought that Lewis’ ability to change from Julius to Buddy was the best magic trick he had ever witnessed.  From that day on, he wanted to be an actor and, more specifically, play that role.  Lewis says that the name Michael Andrew will spread like wildfire after the first show. 
After getting to see the set, another part of the Media Day was attending a rehearsal.  This was definitely the best part.  The rehearsal room was a lot smaller than I thought it would be, which made it even better.  The actors were literally a few feet in front of me, and Mr. Lewis was just a few feet to my right.   The rehearsal was amazing.  The performances were definitely all that had been described and watching Jerry Lewis direct was unbelievable. I was astonished at Michael Andrew’s ability to portray two completely different people with seconds between one character to the other, and Marissa McGowan’s voice was flawless.  The only bad part about it was not getting to see the whole thing! 

Opening night finally came, and I have never been so excited to see a performance.  I was already so invested in the actors and all that had happened to make the show possible so seeing it come to life was incredible.  Jerry Lewis was spot on about Michael Andrew, and Marissa McGowan’s voice was again, flawless.  I even got to tell her that in person at the cast party! 

It was all such a great experience, and I am very hopeful that the show will make it to Broadway.  I will definitely be on a plane to NYC to see it again, except this time my t-shirt will say, “I’m from Nashville, where it all began!”. 

Carpe Diem featuring Will Jordan (September Issue)

It’s hard to believe, but my husband and I have lived in Franklin for almost 10 years now.  After visiting this wonderful town for the first time, I fell in love and knew I wanted to live and raise a family here.  Looking back, I realize I had no idea how much I would really love it, and the people I’ve met have played such a big part in that.  In 2003, not long after settling in, I was introduced to Franklin native, Will Jordan.  We instantly bonded through all of our artistic commonalities.  Will is a photographer, a journalist, a musician and one of the most creative people I have ever known.  The walls of his home are covered in his photography, and I have found myself many times stopping and admiring all that he has captured.  Will is the type of person that can look at anything and see art.  He can take an old pair of shoes, a rusted piece of metal, a dirty street…anything… and turn it into something beautiful.  To say he has an “eye for art” would be an understatement.  He has an unbelievable talent, and I am happy to say that there is now a place you can go and experience it for yourself. 

Will has opened a boutique gallery called “Carpe Diem” at 212 South Margin Street in Franklin.  The gallery’s location, formerly Scarlett Scales, is a perfect addition to the area that has always been the antique district but is quickly becoming the art district, as well.  I’ve been fortunate enough to see the gallery come to life from bare walls to what it is now.  Walking through the doors is like getting a glimpse into Will’s mind.  It’s an explosion of art and music and love- love for the community of other artists, art enthusiasts and really anyone that’s a part of his life.  Will has a big heart, a kind spirit, and many adoring fans who are just as excited as I am about his new venture.  The art is an eclectic mix of Will’s experiences over the last 15 years.  He doesn’t limit himself to one subject, but he says he prefers promo shots for bands, album covers and individual portraiture. I asked Will what his favorite place to shoot was, but I was pretty sure I already knew the answer.  I did.  Will goes to Bonnaroo every year and comes back with the most incredible photos.  You’ve probably seen some of them hanging in Kimbros Cafe and The Mellow Mushroom in downtown Franklin.

In addition to Will’s art, the “shotgun shack” gallery houses Lee Hall custom furniture, Justin Martin vintage motorcycle helmets and artwork, John Baugh custom leather accessories, Tod Brakebill custom ammo boxes and pic boxes, Beverly Ford Evans abstracts, Greg Bennet guitars and many others.  Will has also started Vagabond Clothing Company, which contributes to the “boutique” part of the gallery, along with WeWOOD watches, Tawapa body jewelry, Dragon sunglasses and more.  Brandon and Kate Hagan are partnering with Will as owners and will be contributing their art, as well.  They all want to support as many local artists as they can and will even be hosting cd release parties for area musicians. 

Carpe Diem encompasses so much of what Franklin is about.  It’s unique.  It’s beautiful.   It’s unlike any other.  Will Jordan has created a space that allows him to further unleash his talent in our community and inspire others to do the same.  Just when I think Franklin can’t get any better, I now have a new reason on my list of why I love this town.  Carpe Diem.

Fifty Shades... (Summer Issue)

I am not always an “everybody else is doing it so why not me” kind of person, but all the current hype around E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey definitely intrigued me enough to take the plunge into this enticing novel.  I do not think I was quite prepared for the extreme graphic writing that leaves nothing to the imagination, and a few times, I almost decided to stop reading the book.  However, after the shock wore off (or did it?), I became deeply invested in the love story between the heroine Anastasia Steele and her billionaire boyfriend Christian Grey.

Anastasia is a bit clumsy, beautiful but doesn’t know it and has never had a serious boyfriend.  Surprised by her feelings, she becomes relentlessly drawn to a gorgeous billionaire, Christian Grey, who is drawn to her, as well, but warns her that he is no good for her because he has a secret.  Sound familiar?  Yes, the British author has admitted that the novel is based on her love of Edward and Bella in the Twilight Saga.  The parallels between the two books go on and on and are a little too much, in my opinion, but it has not stopped me from agreeing with the vast majority that this is a great read.

James refers to the novel as her “mid-life crisis”, and she never expected that it would be so popular.  Selling two million copies in the first month was certainly a shock to her, and she does not like talking about it much.  She says that she’s not a great writer and had no discipline in the two years she spent obsessively putting the words on her Mac.  My only problem with the writing is a lot of word repetition and the occasional use of British lingo not commonly used by Americans, which the characters are.

Fifty Shades of Grey’s largest known audience has become “soccer moms” needing a little escape from their reality.  On the other hand, I happen to know of some prim and proper grandmothers, curious husbands and even brigadier general in the U.S. Army that have read the book cover to cover and have it proudly displayed on their coffee tables!  News has spread that the racy novel is adding a little spice back into marriages all over the country, and I don’t think it’s just about the “kinky stuff”.  The book covers compromise, expression of feelings, unconditional love and other important ingredients of a successful relationship that all need a bit of a tune up from time to time.  There are still some who are appalled by such controversial writing, but I say everyone, except my mother of course, should give it a try.  “Laters, baby”. 

Fifty Shades of Grey is the first in a series of three novels written by E.L. James.

Deconstructed Songwriter's Night (Summer Issue)

Apart from being a wife and mom, my passion is music.  I have been singing since I could talk and feel most like myself, when I am on stage.  This passion is what has inspired me to start this section of YOUR Magazine.  There is so much incredible talent in our area, and I want to experience and share it, as much as I can.  When deciding what my first music story would be, I immediately thought of Kimbro’s Café.  In an old house on South Margin Street, Kimbro’s has become the hub of the music scene in Franklin.  Their calendar is full of great artists, but there is one night a week that, in my opinion, tops them all.  Every Tuesday around 8:00pm songwriters and friends from all walks of life gather together for the Deconstructed Free Form Songwriter’s Night.  I recently attended the songwriter’s night, and the first thing I noticed was the incredible vibe between the musicians. They seem to have made such strong connections through this shared medium that it’s become more of a weekly family reunion that no one wants to miss. 

The night started with the amazing voice of host Ben Cyllus who set the tone for the evening and encouraged anyone willing to take the stage.  I will admit, I can be quite the music snob, especially when attending this type of “free form” entertainment.  I knew that I would hear some great talent, but I was also prepared for some disappointment.  I could not have been more wrong.  Every musician I heard was unbelievable.  The vocals, the writing and the instrumentation were all a pleasant surprise.  And these performances were not products of hours of rehearsal.  Some of the musicians were introducing themselves to each other on the stage once the songs were done. 

I was impressed by so many that I heard that night, but I must mention one in particular.  A young female artist by the name of Julia Sinclair joined performers several times impromptu and wowed everyone in the room with her phenomenal ability on the bass guitar.  I did a little research on Miss Sinclair, and her melodious skills go way beyond the bass.  The list of instruments that she can play goes on and on and her voice is astonishing. The term prodigy was no doubt thrown around in her childhood years, and she is definitely on my musical radar from now on. 

There were so many others worth mentioning, but you just have to see it for yourselves.  Kimbro’s really has something special that cannot be duplicated anywhere else.  If you love music and can get away on a Tuesday night, head on down to 214 South Margin Street.  You might even see me behind the mic, and I hope I can live up to my new expectations.