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No. 637: Country Music Without the Country

No. 637: Country Music Without the Country

📅 Today, Davis talks about country music, Miles recaps the Titans' finale, and Megan gets us ready for the start of the 113th General Assembly tomorrow.

Good afternoon, everyone.

Breaking news this morning: Country music, by its nature, is racist and those who listen to it are backward rednecks in need of re-education camps. To deal with this unfortunate situation, the medium needs reform by executive fiat.

At least that’s the perspective of the Tennessean’s new opinion and engagement reporter, Andrea Williams, who penned an op-ed at the end of last week skewering the industry for its lack of diversity. Apparently, she watched the Nashville New Years extravaganza on CBS from her couch, saw too many white people, and got pissed off enough to write about it.

“By providing the soundtrack to the lives of the political right, the anti-DEI, and the generally racist (disparate, progressive fans notwithstanding),” Williams writes, "country music enjoys unfettered access to a pre-built, unflinchingly loyal fan base.”

Williams may be unhinged, but she’s not alone in her sentiment. One of the notable aspects of Freddie O’Connell’s mayoral campaign was its refusal to engage or even name country music as a vital aspect of the city’s culture. 

The campaign was built on a carefully constructed narrative pitting “billionaires and bachelorettes” against residents. Once you start to peel back the layers, you begin to realize that it’s not just about the tourists, but the kind of tourist that the city attracts: white American country fans. The city needs to be more open to tourists and residents of all varieties.

That’s an attitude shared by CVC CEO Deanna Ivey as well, who wants to orient the tourism industry more toward rich Europeans and other upscale travelers who don’t remind city brass of their current clientele's disinterest in spending the day at a luxury spa.

“If Nashville is serious about being known as a welcoming, progressive enclave,” Williams says in her op-ed, “city leaders can either back away from their country music ties or demand -- and enforce -- the industry's long overdue changes.”

William’s solution is to get more black people into country music—a genre with minuscule appeal to the black community. I never hear white people decrying the lack of white rap artists. An all-white Wu-Tang Clan just wouldn’t be the same for obvious reasons.

In 2003, then freshly elected US Senator Lamar Alexander noted of country music’s relationship to the city of Nashville, "Country music still sits uncomfortably in Nashville, like McDonald's in Japan." But we live in a different world now. McDonald’s looks right at home in Tokyo and Alexander’s red checkered shirt would draw less scrutiny.

And yet, there’s still a determined cast of city leaders who have refused to accept that Nashville, whether you want it to be or not, is inextricably linked to country music. It’s because of this link, and the culture that it promotes, nurtures, and represents, that the city has exploded, gaining a more prominent presence on the world stage.

The industry achieved worldwide success without listening to the opinions of armchair race-baiters like Williams or the hectoring of city leadership.

It’s about time we had writers and leaders who understand, like, and can think positively about what the city is becoming even if, as it has for me, it’s transformed into something almost unrecognizable. It’s still home for most of us. I’m not going to root against it.




Stunning victory over division rival sends Jags packing, Steelers, Bills clinch playoff berths

From Austin Miles Harrington

Happy 2024 it is indeed, boys and girls! Tennessee is 1-0 in the new year and, sure, we may not be in the playoffs, but we witnessed the next best thing. If you’re going through hell, bring your enemy down there with you. The Titans understood yesterday’s season finale had large ramifications in regard to who would inevitably win the AFC South and wrap up the final two Wild Card spots in the conference. Taking on the role of puppet master is a bizarre position when 5-11, but that’s exactly where they stood and, boy, did they make these teams dance like little dolls.

Continue reading...


From Megan Podsiedlik

The 113th General Assembly reconvenes tomorrow, January 9th; so far, 62 bills have already been filed for introduction in the House, with a respective 83 bills in the Senate. This morning, House Speaker Cameron Sexton called a Select Rules Committee meeting to hear various rule change proposals and establish what behavior is and isn’t acceptable on the floor and in committee rooms.

During August's extraordinary session on public safety, both House and Senate passed new rules to limit disruptions from the gallery along with excitable speech and behavior from legislators; the House changes were established temporarily during special session, while the Senate’s were made permanent. These were put in place following the now-infamous protest by Representatives Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson.  

Reminiscent of his days as a free-agent activist, Justin Jones continues to be the driving force behind many of the protests that take place on Capitol Hill. Not only has his conduct during floor sessions been uniquely disruptive, his behavior during committee meetings has been similarly unconventional.


Back in April, Rep. Sabi "Doc" Kumar, an Indian-American Republican representing Springfield, recanted one of those, er, unconventional experiences. 

“In [my] 53 years in America,” he told Jones on the House floor, “I have never encountered a racial slur….Yet, you, on tape, called me a brown face.” 

"...what I told you was, as the only member of their caucus who is not of the Caucasian persuasion, I said you put a brown face on white supremacy,” rebutted Jones during the exchange.

During a press conference following his expulsion, Jones made another comment at Kumar’s expense, calling him “a little confused” for being part of the “majority-white caucus.”


With five bills already filed for this year’s General Assembly, Rep. Gino Bulso (R-Brentwood) is in the crosshairs of left-wing media. Taking a look at what he’s submitted, it’s easy to see why: 

NO MEDDLING IN THE STATE LEGISLATURE’S PROCEDURES: “As introduced, declares that no circuit, chancery, or other court has subject matter jurisdiction over any legal action, challenging any rule, regulation, or procedure of the senate or house of representatives.”

PERMISSION TO CHALLENGE LIBRARY MATERIALS: “As introduced, gives a parent of a child who attends, or who is eligible to attend, a school operated by a local education agency or a public charter school standing to file a civil action against the LEA or public charter school in a chancery court of competent jurisdiction to enforce the Age-Appropriate Materials Act of 2022.”

PERMISSION TO CARRY IN PRIVATE SCHOOLS: “As introduced, clarifies that a private school serving students in any of the grades pre-K through 12 is authorized to adopt a handgun carry policy for the private school's property.”

BULSO’S FLAG LAW: “As introduced, prohibits LEAs and public charter schools from displaying in public schools flags other than the official United States flag and the official Tennessee state flag.”

ALLOWING LEGISLATORS TO SEE THE MANIFESTO: “As introduced, upon written request by a member of the general assembly, requires all state and local law enforcement agencies to release to the member making the request a copy of all records collected by the agency, including, but not limited to, all writings and medical, toxicology, and other reports, of a perpetrator involved in a school shooting incident that occurred at a public or private school in this state in March of 2023.”


Representative Scott Cepicky proposes guardrails for artificial intelligence in the classroom (Firefly) Cepicky’s is proposing a bill to require each university and K-12 school district in Tennessee to develop a policy for how both teachers and students will be allowed to utilize AI.

MNPD Reassigns 10 Officers Questioned in Covenant School Shooting Leak (AP) To date, the department has been unable to identify the person who leaked pages from a school shooter’s journals to a conservative commentator nearly two months ago. The unsanctioned publication of documents came during an ongoing legal battle over whether they should be released as public records.

Metro Traffic and Parking possibly expanding 'No Vending Zone' in downtown entertainment district (Channel 5) Metro Traffic and Parking Commission will meet today to take up a proposal to push the “No Vending Zone" further. It would expand about a block further south and west of the main downtown tourist area. This request was made by newly elected councilmember Jacob Kupin.


  • 32-Story Tower Enters Final Planning Stages In Downtown Nashville (Now Next)
  • Neighborlily to bring colorful bites, beverages, bouquets to Germantown (NBJ)
  • 12South site eyed for possible redevelopment (Post)
  • 12South building set for wine cafe (Post)


View our calendar for the week here and our weekly film rundown here.

📅 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.

🎧 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.

👨🏻‍🌾 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide.

Monday, 1/8

🪕 Larry Cordle @ Station Inn, 8p, $20, Info

🎸 PJ Ferguson @ The Underdog, 8p, $10, Info
+ roots rock

🪕 Nate Leath & Friends @ Janes Hideaway, 8p, Info
+ bluegrass-jazz fusion

🪕 East Nash Grass @ Dee's Lounge, 6p, $10, Info

🪕 Bronwyn Keith-Hynes Band @ Dee's Lounge, 8:30p, $10, Info

💀 Grateful Monday @ Acme Feed & Seed, 8p, Free, Info

🕺 Motown Monday @ The 5 Spot, 9p, $5, Info

In case you missed it...

📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.

No. 636: Polls, Chesterton, Raw Eggs, Oh My!
📄 Fireworks on the horizon · Raw Egg Nationalist · Chesterton in Nashville · Push Polls · Much More!
No. 635: How the Right Can Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Arts
🖼 Enjoying ugly things isn’t cool · Book review of Monsters · Beacon Poll results · Much More!
No. 634: Into the breach...
🎉 What to expect in 2024 · Political races · Transit push · Tourists vs. Residents · Much More!
Year in Review
🗓 Biggest stories of the year · Hidden gems · Weekly film rundown · Much more!
No. 633: Nearing the End
🗓 Nearing the end · The man who appears in your dreams · Six bills on the docket for next year · Much more!


  • 🖊 G.K. Chesterton's commentary on Nashville and the broader South from his 1921 tour of the US still resonates (Read)
  • 📺 The best streaming has to offer for your holiday viewing needs. (Read)
  • 🪲 Dream Scenario takes on Culture War schisms from the defiant middle. (Read)
  • 🏘 The double-edged sword of prosperity in Tennessee's small towns (Read)
  • And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.