In The Scene: Surveying The Best of Nashville Pt. 1

Here’s our latest conversation on what the alt-weekly The Nashville Scene is covering with its music editor Stephen Trageser. This time, the topic is who and what made it into the annual Best of Nashville issue. (Spoiler alert: WNXP and our own Jason Moon Wilkins and Marquis Munson got some serious love.)

Jewly Hight: Your Best Of Nashville issue is out today. It’s always one of your biggest issues each year. As in, it’s got the most pages and it’s probably one of the most widely read. So what is it mean to spotlight?

Stephen Trageser: Well, we kind of cover everything from activists and politicians to art collectives to restaurants and shops and music as well. You know, the whole idea is just sort of looking at what makes the city great, who is who’s working to try to make things better here. We’ve got a readers poll and we have writer’s choice picks as well.

JH: There are a significant number of entries that reflect major happenings from the past year. One of those is the opening of the National Museum of African-American Music, right in downtown Nashville. Scene contributor Ron Wynn wrote about that. What did he celebrate?

ST: [NMAAM] is a really comprehensive look at the contributions of both Black artists and Black folks in the music business. Basically, whatever music you love, this museum tells you important stories that you may not have heard before about the contributions of Black artists and Black people in the music business, and it’s just done so well. It’s a beautiful tribute to these super important contributions to our culture.

JH: You wrote an entry singling out the small, East Nashville club The 5 Spot for praise. What were you focusing on there?

ST: I was focusing on how venues are navigating the pandemic. I mean, across the spectrum, there’s a lot of praise to go around for how independent music venues have dealt with this interminable crisis. But The 5 Spot is one of the smallest in town, and it’s either been leading the way every time that there has to be a pivot or doing it really, really well. I just wanted to kind of shout [that] out, from making the hard decision to close to coming up with a way to have livestreams to kind of being at the forefront of putting a proof of vaccination protocol into place. And they’ve just been working really hard at it, trying to make sure that this ecosystem comes back strong.

JH: The Exit/In proprietors Chris and Telisha Cobb and their Out/Back Show series both receive mentions in the Best of Nashville issue. What are they being recognized for?

ST: Well, the Cobbs we’ve singled out as best champions of the music community talking, about their involvement with MVAN, the Music Venue Alliance of Nashville, sort of a local trade group for venues and. And also how they’ve been telling the story about the the necessity of keeping independent venues independent. On top of that, they opened the Out/Back space in the summertime. We call that best impromptu venue.

JH: And what about Brooklyn Bowl Nashville? What’s it being recognized for?

ST: We’ve called that the best new venue. It’s just an incredible room that is bringing in a lot of national acts and also making space for local folks.

JH: You know, the launch of WNXP was another new addition to the musical landscape of Middle Tennessee in the last year. Did I hear that the station got a mention as well?

ST: Indeed, our writers shouted out Marquis Munson as best new voice on the radio, they shouted out Jason Moon Wilkins as best program director and the station itself got a nod as best new radio station.

JH: Alright! There is so much more packed into the Best of Nashville issue that we have not gotten around to talking about yet. So what do you say that we continue the conversation next week?

ST: That sounds great!