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No. 656: Nashville Punches Above Its Weight
Photo by cody lannom / Unsplash

No. 656: Nashville Punches Above Its Weight

📅 Today, Davis talks about Nashville's cultural clout, Miles previews NSC's 2024 season, and Megan gets us ready for tonight's State of the State address.

Good afternoon, everyone.

As a region, the southern United States continues to outstrip the rest of the nation in terms of population growth, economic growth, and — as evidenced by last night's Grammy Awards — cultural clout. Nashville products Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus took home two of the biggest awards: Album of the Year and Record of the Year, respectively.

Parroting pop news like this may seem irrelevant, but as a city duking it out for relevance on the international stage, the south's cultural capital, Nashville, continues to punch above its weight.




NSC looks to rectify 2023 disappointment with additional offensive firepower

From Miles Harrington

The older we get, the faster time passes. How the hell is March already only a few weeks away?  It feels like just a moment ago we were discussing Nashville SC’s lackluster finish to the 2023 season.

A scorching hot midseason push fell to pieces after a magical run into the Leagues Cup Final against Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami FC. That’s what happens when you can only compete on one side of the ball. Defense led the charge to last year's postseason berth, but an inability to become multidimensional on the offensive half ensured NSC would never be a threat in the MLS Tournament.

Manager Gary Smith knew that had to change this offseason… and fast.

Continue reading...


From Megan Podsiedlik

Tonight at 6 p.m., the governor will make his sixth State of the State address from the House Chamber in the state capitol. Below, we’ve added a bit more context to the five initiatives Lee outlined in a press release sent out by his office this morning.

Securing Tennessee’s Future

The governor promises that fortifying Tennessee and ensuring “opportunity, security and freedom for all of her people” will be a priority for the remainder of his time in office. Indeed, as illustrated by his tenure, this has been a recurring theme of his.

In 2022, Lee pushed for energy independence, starting with a five-to-ten year plan to build four small modular reactor units. This year, a state sovereignty bill has already been filed by legislators with the intent of addressing federal overreach. Tonight, we’ll find out the initiatives the governor hopes will guarantee a bright future for the state.

Advancing Rural Opportunities 

“We’ve prioritized economic investment across rural counties and developed a workforce strategy that works for every Tennessean, and it’s paying off,” Lee’s press release reads. In October, the governor held his annual Rural Opportunity Summit where he presented the “investments in vocational, technical, and agricultural education” his administration has prioritized to support rural communities.

Last year, the governor also backed a number of initiatives to address rural healthcare: these included a grant program for crisis pregnancy centers and a plan to extend TennCare coverage for mothers in need of postpartum support. Starting in September, $20 million in grants was made available to pregnancy centers, and on January 1st, families on Medicaid were able to extend these postpartum benefits.

During this year’s General Assembly, we’ve already seen bills filed with the intention of furthering the governor’s goals, including legislation meant to fund rural hospitals and ambulances

Fiscal Responsibility & Economic Prosperity

“Now, more than ever, people across our nation are turning to Tennessee as a model for economic prosperity – and it’s clear why,” the governor said. His proposed initiative to cut business taxes this year is already under fire. State Democrats have questioned the fiscal efficacy of the move, and have instead proposed grocery tax relief

Expanding Educational Choices

“We can give parents choice and support public schools at the same time,” he states in the press release. “You’ll hear me say that over and over again-– these two ideas are not in conflict.” As expected, the governor will mention his expansion of Tennessee’s ESA program, the Education Freedom Scholarship Act of 2024.

The ESA program has had its share of controversies since its pilot introduction in 2019: what with the governor’s charter partnership with Hillsdale, pushback from state Democrats and teachers unions, and the scandalous ESA bill leak last week, the proposal has continued to own Tennessee headlines. In spite of this, a recent Beacon poll shows 68 percent of likely Tennessee voters support the program’s expansion.

Protecting Tennessee Music 

Lastly, Governor Lee mentioned a bill now known as the Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security, or rather the ELVIS Act. “This year, together with members of the General Assembly, I’m proposing legislation to protect Tennessee’s rich musical heritage and ensure that no one can steal the voice of Tennessee artists,” he said. Majority leaders Rep. William Lamberth (R-Portland) and Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) have sponsored the bill, which would protect artists against the misuse of artificial intelligence.

You can stream the State of the State address on YouTube starting at 6 p.m. this evening.


Gun discoveries at Nashville airport rank among the most in the nation (Axios) The Transportation Security Administration reported its agents found 188 guns at Nashville airport security checkpoints in 2023 compared with a record high of 213 the year before.

Governor Bill Lee, 12 Other Governors Visit Texas’ Border with Mexico (Star) The Tennessee Department of Military is currently coordinating with Texas to determine a timeline and areas of greatest need for the first wave of Tennessee National Guard members, according to Lee’s office.

TSU responds to Senate bill aiming to remove board of trustees (WKRN) State Sen. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) is sponsoring the bill and believes this is the best course of action for the state to move the university forward. Lundberg based the response to continued financial mismanagement, which was discovered in a 2023 comptroller’s audit.


  • Pie Town building owner preps for Mexican restaurant (Post)
  • April completion eyed for Fifth + Broadway addition (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.


🎸 Squid @ The Basement East, 8p, $22, Info
+ English post-punk

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

🪕 The Time Jumpers @ 3rd and Lindsley, 6p, $25, Info
+ Western swing

🪕 Bluegrass Monday with The Jed Clark Band @ Dee's Lounge, 6p, $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. 655: Jones Fails to Walk the Line
📅 Today, Davis gives Justin Jones free PR, we visited the Forging Freedom event in Putnam County, and Megan reports on the mayor’s transit initiative.
No. 654: There’s Another Way
📅 Today, Davis lays the ground for Jano Tantongco’s excellent piece on political developments in El Salvador, and Megan talks about efforts to by legislators to push back against federal overreach.
No. 653: Push Polls and Automobiles
🗓 Today, Davis talks about how much citizens in Nashville rely on cars and Megan reports on a TEA push poll regarding the proposed ESA program.
No. 652: The Sting
📅 Today, Davis talks about sting operations and Megan introduces Metro’s new lobbyist.
No. 651: To blame, or not to blame
📅 Today, Davis talks about gun thefts from cars, Miles previews the Super Bowl, and Megan updates us on the governor’s office and looks at what Justin Jones has been up to.


  • 🇸🇻 President Nayib Bukele’s historic transformation of El Salvador (Read)
  • 🤼 The Iron Claw is a Heartland epic. Of course it isn’t an Oscar contender. (Read)
  • ☢️ A small Tennessee town's forgotten history as a nuclear leader (Read)
  • 🤡 Metro Arts launches initiative to 'return land, money, and resources' to 'Indigenous, African, and Asian peoples' (Read)
  • And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.