at Basement East
Roving rock ‘n’ roll philosopher Rayland Baxter’s new album, Wide Awake, is out July 13, and he’ll be at Basement East on July 18 - 19 as a hometown
NL: How does it feel to have your own place in Midtown Nashville?
TS: I love living in Midtown. In 10 minutes, I can walk to Hillsboro Village through the Vanderbilt campus, past the gorgeous old stone buildings and churches. I love being so close to Green Hills and the Gulch and Broadway. Everything is two minutes away.
NL: What’s your favorite thing about owning and having your own place?
TS: My favorite thing is getting to have my friends over and cook for them. Hanging out with friends at home always turns into some piano sing-along, so I have all kinds of percussion instruments and guitars lying around. Also, living in an apartment motivates you to get out and get things done during the day. Something about living up in the sky, being able to see the whole city going about its day, makes you want to get up early and go accomplish things.
NL: If you had a day to be anonymous in Music City, what would you do and where would you go?
TS: I’d just probably do the same things I usually do. It would be so depressing to think I couldn’t go certain places because people know who I am now. I love going to the shops in Franklin and walking around the adorable areas in East Nashville (my fiddle player Caitlin’s neighborhood) and walking to Starbucks in the morning. I love concerts at the Ryman, I like going to Target. These are all places where there are always lots of people around, but that’s just kind of where I like going. It’s not that big of a deal, really.
NL: Your top choices for a great meal in the city and what you order?
TS: Fido in Hillsboro Village—I like it for its atmosphere and energy. Everybody’s always hanging out there, having lattes in mugs with cute little swirl designs on top. My friends and I like it because it’s open late. Capitol Grille in the Hermitage Hotel—I took my parents there for Mother’s Day this year, and it had this old school, back-in-time vibe to it. Sometimes I think every restaurant is trying to out-hip the others—this one is really classic, and my brother and I were geeking out about the history of the Hermitage Hotel. Tokyo in Green Hills—This place has a deck to sit outside and hibachi tables inside. The waiters and waitresses are so sweet and friendly.
NL: Do you have any favorite shops in or around Nashville? If so, any tips for great finds?
TS: I have so many favorite shops here. I love Gilchrist and Gilchrist, this family owned shop in Berry Hill. I bought a lot of cute decorations and furniture for my apartment there. For the girls who like shabby chic, go there. I really like the Hill Center area with Anthropologie and H.Audrey. Fire Finch and Pangaea in Hillsboro Village are so cute too. Fanny’s House of Music in East Nashville has instruments, lessons, sweet ladies who work there and awesome vintage clothes, shoes, and accessories (across the street is Pied Piper, get some ice cream there).
NL: In five words or less, can you give us a few adjectives that describe your personality?
TS: Curious. Excitable. History-obsessed. Hopelessly, blindly romantic.
NL: What do you consider to be the best places to take out of town visitors coming to Nashville for the first time?
TS:If you’re dealing with foodies, take them to City House in Germantown. If your guests like barbecue and a laid-back, front porch vibe, South Street is great. 12South is a really cool area; places like Burger Up and then Frothy Monkey is next door for coffee. At least drive down Broadway and show them the honkytonks. Go to Pancake Pantry for breakfast. I like to drive down Music Row and show out of town guests how quaint and laid back our music industry has stayed, with major record and publishing companies in cute little houses. Also, the Belle Meade Plantation is awesome and it’s one of the first places I went when I first came here. I’m obsessed with the history of this town. I seriously park my car and read those historical marker signs when I see them.
NL: If you had to leave home with only three items, what would they be?
TS:My contact lenses. My phone. A sharpie.
NL: Who are your ultimate idols living in Music City, and do you ever get time to see them?
TS: I think my favorite person in Nashville is Faith Hill. She’s been my idol since I saw her on both VH1 and CMT when I was about 10. I loved how she was taking country music to bigger audiences, and her grace in the spotlight. Since I put out my first album, Faith has been a welcoming and warm presence in my life, time after time. She sends flowers on my birthday and sent me cookies when I got sick.
Another one of my favorite people is Kenny Chesney. He’s so supportive, and always makes sure I know he’s in my corner. He sends little notes of encouragement, and I know I can ask him for advice any time. These are two people who had always been my heroes for their career accomplishments, and when I met them, they became my heroes for their characters.
NL: Tell us about the single most intriguing element in your live show.
TS: My favorite thing about this show is that the stage and the mood are always constantly changing in front of you. People have compared it to a Broadway play, and I’ll take that comparison any day. I love the drama of visual storytelling and the element of surprise that you can incorporate into a show. We spent half a year planning each moment that occurs on that stage, and the result is a show I’m really excited to play every night. Mostly, I’m happy that this show has become an extension of my imagination. Sparkles and all.