Archive for July 2009

Nashville’s Own Yazoo Brew

yazoologo02Linus Hall is a hero of mine. You may not know the name, but Middle Tennessee residents have at least seen the fruits of his labor. Many of them drink it. Linus is the proprietor of the Nashville original Yazoo Brew.

Linus was a young quality engineer for a major tire manufacturer headquartered in Middle Tennessee that sounds like Flintstone. He’d been homebrewing for several years and made so much he gave it away. And they liked it! So after much debate with his wife, he began the process of starting a brewery.

The first step was to quit his job. His steady paycheck gone, Linus completed an MBA at Vanderbilt Owen School of Management, a craftbrewing degree from the American Brewer’s Guild and an internship with the Brooklyn Brewery.

In 2003, he signed a lease on space in the old Marathon Motor Works building and acquired brewing equipment. Six years later, Yazoo Brew is a rousting success. A Yazoo tap has a place in most every restaurant and bar in Nashville. Yazoo bottled beer occupies shelf space in Nashville area Kroger, Publix, Walmart and Whole Foods stores. They operate a small tap room with limited hours that Nashville Scene readers voted Best Underground Happy Hour (shhh, don’t tell).

It’s taken 6 years, but Yazoo has outgrown it’s space in Marathon Motor Works. It’s a good problem to have. Linus is in the process of building out a new facility in the Gulch, giving them ample room to expand operations. I’m looking forward to many a cold one and the new concotions from the new facility.

My personal favorite Yazoos are the Sly Rye Porter and the Hefeweizen (fresh from the tap). The chocolaty porter is my favorite cool weather beer. And for cooling down in hot weather, it’s none other than the fruity Hefe.

If you’re a beer lover and visiting Nashville, stop by the tap room, try it at a restaurant, or buy a six pack. You’ll be glad you did. And if you don’t, I’ll buy one for you.

And why is Linus a hero of mine? Because he quit his steady paycheck to follow his dream.

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This is a post of Favorites Friday. Each Friday, I share some of my favorite music, writing, movies… anything that’s a favorite of mine.

Brazilbilly, Rescuing Country Music on Broadway

Borrowing words sung by Alan Jackson and George Strait, “they’ve committed murder, down on Music Row.” And while Nashville’s Music Row has favored “pop” country for years, many newer artists like Brad Paisley have a healthy respect for traditional country music.

Not on Broadway where no “honkytonk” consistently delivers traditional country anymore. The old haunts in the area of the former home of the Grand Ole Opry and the Mother Church of Country Music (the Ryman Auditorium) have mostly abandoned the style. All except Robert’s Western World that is. Each Friday and Saturday night from 10pm to 2am you’ll hear their house band, Brazilbilly (traditional country music with a Latin flair). And the place is always packed.

If you want to hear covers of Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, and Hank Williams Sr and music inspired by them, Brazilbilly is your band. Check out some of their music below.

  • Gene “Pappy” Merritts, 80, plays fiddle, mandolin, bass and guitar. “Pappy” has had the distinction of playing with Patsy Cline, Dottie West, and Bill Monroe. And he really makes his fiddle sing.  “Pappy” also plays with John England and the Western Swingers on Mondays at Roberts.
  • David Tanner plays doghouse bass. David gave up his successful career as an attorney in Indiana to move to Nashville and pursue his music career. He also fronts his own band, Fifty Five Eleven in E.
  • Chris Casello plays lap steel and electric guitar for Brazilbilly. Chris also plays with his own group, the Starlight Drifters.
  • Jesse Lee Jones is “the Brazilian Hillbilly” and sings vocals and plays rhythm guitar and percussion for Brazilbilly. Jesse Lee was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil and absorbed the vivid musical influence of that culture. But in 1984, he left Brazil for the United States without knowing a word of English. After spending about 10 years in Atlanta and Peoria, Illinois, Jesse Lee came to Nashville in 1994 where he worked scrubbing the decks of the General Jackson. From his first gig at the Stoney’s Inn at Opryland he ended up on Broadway where Robert recognized his talent and helped him put a band together for regular gigs. From these humble beginnings to leader of the house band and part owner of Robert’s Western World, Jesse Lee has come a long way baby.

Here’s a couple of the MP3’s from their website.
Big Iron
If That’s What’s In Your Heart


Brazilbilly page at Robert’s
Brazilbilly Myspace Music
Brazilbilly Myspace

Brazilbilly and Robert’s Western World are absolutely musts for visitors to Nashville. What are your must see regular music performances?

This is a post of Favorites Friday. Each Friday, I share some of my favorite music, writing, movies… anything that’s a favorite of mine.

Leonard Cohen, singer, poet, philosopher, songwriter

Welcome to the inaugural post of Favorites Friday. Each Friday, I’ll share some of my favorite music, writing, movies… anything that’s a favorite of mine.
Leonard CohenI was first introduced to Leonard Cohen through the soundtrack of the early 90’s movie Pump Up the Volume starring Christian Slater. Leonard’s raspy voice belting out Everybody Knows spoke to me as an 17 year old high school senior. The lyrics seems to sum up all I knew about the world at the time. Since, that song has been successfully covered by Rufus Wainwright, Concrete Blonde (their version is also on the soundtrack) and Don Henley and yet nothing substitutes for Leonard’s own rendition. I didn’t know at the time this poet was older than my own father.

Leonard has done much of what I suspect would do me good.

  • Spent time with Janis Joplin
  • Study religion in a monastery
  • Dated Rebecca De Mornay

During a recent tribute, I’m Your Man, Teddy Thompson covered another fantastic song which sometimes I find myself singing as I remember someone that was special to me. Interesting though, that someone hated Leonard’s music until I pointed out his music on the soundtrack one of her favorite movies, Shrek. Can you find the song he wrote?

The rest of the tribute-mentary is fantastic and includes other performances by Rufus Wainright, Nick Cave and Bono.

Leonard Cohen wiki

What other less known artists have influenced you?

Making Mead, Week 9 Bottling


Thanks for walking this path with me. It’s bottling time for the mead. Last weekend, July 3, with the help of my homebrewing cohort Jim Compson, we primed and bottled 3 gallons of the honey concoction into 22 once beer bottles. We used 3/4 cup of honey to prime it. Hopefully there will be enough yeast left in the mead to carbonate it. Now it’s time for patience. It should be ready for tasting around New Years. Yeah, I know, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I sulphited the remaining 3 gallons for bottling into wine bottles at a later date.

Oh, and if you live in Middle Tennessee, save your 750mL wine bottles for me. I’ll be happy to come collect them.